Sedona, AZ — Listening to the City Council discussion on funding for the Uptown Visitor Center I found it interesting that the decision-making process seems to be only propelled by percentages or arbitrary numbers. This seems to be a type of corporate thinking letting the numbers dictate decisions and can be a flawed way of deciding important issues.Using “data” numbers to make decisions does not work in the case of the Sedona Uptown Visitor Center or a healthy and realistic way of managing our tourism economy. The visitor center is primarily used by first-time and infrequent visitors. It is true, that people who are staying at hotels or longer stays do more research and they may not use the visitor center but first-time visitors and infrequent visitors due.The City’s development of a new uptown garage just a few feet from the visitor center and the extension of Forest Road gives an even greater reason to support the existence of and management of a well-run, historically operated Visitor Center for in-person communication as well as timely phone and internet communications.It is shortsighted that the welcome/visitor center in the second most visited place in Arizona could be eliminated because the city council thinks it is not necessary. Everything is not digital. Tradition counts. It sends the wrong message to Uptown businesses as well as the overall business community.While data-driven decision-making has its merits, it is crucial to consider the unique characteristics and historical needs of a one-billion-dollar destination like Sedona. Visitor Centers often serve as a valuable resource for newcomers, providing information, maps, and guidance to help them navigate and understand the local area. They can play a crucial role in promoting tourism, supporting local businesses, and enhancing the overall visitor experience.By neglecting the value of a visitor center as the symbolic heart of Sedona’s tourism world, there is a risk of alienating certain visitor segments, giving the impression that their presence and patronage are not valued. The message being given by some of the City Council’s decisions and perceptions on tourism marketing and outreach is we don’t want to support the wrong kind of visitors. This statement is, in fact, “true” as demonstrated by the reluctance of the city to advertise in the most effective market just 100 miles away.Being prudent in how the city spends money is a laudable trait. But don’t forget that the money you’re spending is coming from tourists in the form of sales and bed tax paid while they’re visiting here. Using the money to support that industry, to help perpetuate its positive cash flow and profitability is in fact, good governance.
I commend Mayor Scott Jablow and Councilor Jessica Williamson for supporting continuing the city funding of the Visitor Center in FY 25 (starting July 1, 2024) at the current 80% level.— Steve Segner