Sedona: An Idea
by Paul Chevalier
Sedona, AZ (November 28, 2011) – Our world has always been a place of uncertainty and outside factions affect our lives. In Sedona we are not immune to what happens in places such as Phoenix, Washington D. C., New York City, Greece, Italy or even China. We can’t do anything to fix problems created in such places. We can minimize their impact on Sedona.
Today in Sedona our greatest uncertainty is our economy. Tourism, at least for the immediate future, is our key business. Sedona is competing for this business with vacation destinations throughout the United States at a time when the amount of money tourists spend is shrinking.
The tourists who come here for a couple of hours or less and then head off to the Grand Canyon will not sustain us. We need tourists who stick around for a while. So, the question is what more should Sedona do to attract a larger number or higher spending tourists to stay for at least a few days and, while enjoying themselves and doing business with our lodgings, restaurants and stores?
Our local businesses and Chamber of Commerce efforts on this subject are critical. And yet, if this were supplemented by wise active involvement of our local government, business would increase more. So let’s ask our government to be more involved.
The big question is how? What should our local government do to improve our economy? There could be long term involvements, such as building a conference center, but financially those are out of the question for now. Our government’s immediate focus needs to be low cost and short term. We need fast payback if some of our businesses are to survive.
So here are just a few ideas that could be quickly implemented at low cost. Some are mine, others have been suggested by our neighbors.
1. Our government and our city businesses needs to put out the welcome mat to our visitors in obvious ways. In particular, city government should do all it can to insure that our festivals are well promoted within our city (i.e. e. uptown banners for major festivals, lodgings and restaurants displaying appropriate festival signs or flyers, citywide festival perks etc).
Governments of other communities doing these things reap the benefit of increased business, particularly by its lodgings and restaurants. In turn, higher tax revenues from the increased business can be used to fix things like city drainage problems faster.
We need to have festivals in Sedona that people want to come back to. The ‘no festival parking’ signs that pop up are a negative that marks us an unfriendly city. Our government needs to find a way quickly to fix that problem.
2. To help businesses and residents reduce their everyday expenses, our government needs to reexamine the various taxes and fees it charges. For example, the wastewater fee for restaurants is indeed strange. It is based on the number of chairs in the restaurant. That makes little sense and might be a temptation. Wouldn’t it be fairer and more logical to base the wastewater fee on the amount of water used by the restaurant? Our city government should be able to get this info from the restaurant’s water company. I believe it is looking into that now. If not, it should.
3. And our city council should sponsor a community-wide competition for the best low cost short term ideas to increase tourists spending over the next twelve months. Even if just one great idea gets implemented, it would be worth the effort of the competition. We have very clever people in Sedona. Government should encourage them to help with this subject.
I will stop here and encourage you to add your own low cost short term ideas in the comments below. Many members of our city council and city staff read SedonaBiz regularly. Your ideas could influence the actions of our government and also the candidates for council. What can you lose by suggesting them?
We are a great community but we need to improve our economy. Let’s offer all the help we can.