Tourism is the Sedona area’s largest industry, generating approximately $1 billion in annual economic acitivity and 10,000 local jobs, according to research by Yavapai College.
“Travelers should know that Sedona is ready to welcome you while expecting courtesy that honors our environment and lifestyle,” she added. “It is time we reinvite visitors while placing responsible recreation front and center.” Sedona’s ‘Respect Red Rock Country’ tips are among many tools offering visitors practical instructions and education, she said.
“As the region’s only certified Destination Management and Marketing Organization, the SCC&TB needs the ability to fully implement best practices that support a sustainable Sedona, and that includes fostering a sustainable economy,” said SCC&TB President and CEO Michelle Conway. “Our business community relies on us to properly position the Sedona brand in the marketplace,” she added. “Competing destinations aggressively promote themselves in travel markets such as Chicago, New York and Southern California, while Sedona has been voiceless.”
In recent years, the Council and Chamber have differed on tourism approaches, particularly when and how to strategically market to attract longer staying, higher spending visitors. The Council declined to fund destination marketing in the last two fiscal years.
“In-state visitation surged during the pandemic as people sought the outdoors, which produced more traffic and trail congestion and caused the Council to pause destination marketing,” Conway said. ”However, as travel resumed post-pandemic, our absence from the national marketplace means we are not positioned to compete in critical travel markets around the country,” she added.
The SCC&TB owns and operates the Visitor Center in Uptown Sedona, VisitSedona.com, social media platforms designed to deliver tailored messages, and a variety of annual publications. The Visitor Center will welcome and educate roughly 150,000 visitors this year, while VisitSedona.com has already reached more than 2.3 million people.
“We will manage these assets to maximize visitation to Sedona by travelers who seek to be part of the solution to overtourism’s challenges,” Perry said. Sedona, with a population of fewer than 10,000, hosts approximately three million travelers annually.
The SCC&TB/City partnership has been funded by a .5 percent addition to the city’s bed tax, voluntarily accepted by hoteliers with the understanding that a percentage of the revenue promote tourism. “Since the Council has declined to promote tourism for the past two years, has no plans to resume, and given that we are opting not to continue the contract, we expect Council to rescind that .5 percent as unfairly burdensome to our lodging industry,” Perry said.
The SCC&TB Board will also work with statewide partners and local businesses to establish private sector structures to manage tourism and marketing. “It’s a very exciting time,” Conway said. “What worked twenty years ago when the Tourism Bureau was formed just doesn’t work anymore. We look forward to leading with renewed energy and a new vision.”
The SCC & TB is in the right by requesting the City Council to rescind the .5% Bed Tax that was implemented in 2014.
This will allow the local hoteliers to be competitive with other cities and town in the Verde Valley.
Sorry, John, your comment doesn’t make sense and we’re not buying this argument anymore. It was never true and it isn’t now. Any examination of revenue and lodging data since the adoption of the bed tax shows that it NEVER impacted either. In fact, the bed tax should be increased to ensure that the greed of the Chamber and its associated tourism businesses that have wrecked quality of life in Sedona pay for the mess they have made. Instead, the city decided to suck the money out of residents with a transportation tax that was promised to sunset, but was restarted without voter approval.
It was folks like you who damaged our community during your time on the city council by caving to the greed of the chamber. The last election demonstrated that Sedona residents were done with the city’s mindless support for more tourism, more tourism, more tourism.
BS Why do you double-talk? It didn’t bother them to grab 55% of city bed taxes to market themselves. That is 50% more than required by law.
The city should keep the .5% for tourism management & marketing. It will take a long time to recoup the extra 50% !
It is also not cool that the chamber is keeping the assets paid for with public money.
Sorry Jason your comment doesn’t make any sense as the chamber will most likely have to downsize and accept pay cuts in order to do their jobs and represent the “commerce” of Sedona. Your comment of greed is nonsense. It’s the local voters who elect these boneheads into city council to greedily attempt to keep Sedona to themselves. Sedona is a tourist destination. Tourism is the heart and history of all that is great in Sedona.
I suspect that the Chamber has seen the writing on the wall and decided to cut their losses. I also suspect that they had difficulty answering the tough questions that the Council members were asking of them recently. The last two election cycles has seen a definite shift in the Council to resident focus as opposed to the previous business mentality that “any visitor is a good visitor as long they bring money”. I am happy for the thoughtful questions that Mayor and Council has asked and the reasonable positions that they have staked out. Voting matters!
And with 10 or 11 Chamber staff members that the current contract paid for under the line item of salaries without proper scopes of work or deliverables was clearly inappropriate. Now City staff can focus on proper and efficient use of the sales and bed tax funding to mitigate the impacts that excessive visitation has had on the resident community. Some of that tax funding may be used to better identify and draw those visitors we want to have here and the rest of these funds can be used to help restore the sense of community that the residents are demanding. While there will always be a tourism component to Sedona, it is not greedy to want to maintain what is special about Sedona, it is respectful!
I suppose I’m frustrated with the idea of more, more,, more. Corporations building hotels, investors living out of state buying airb&b’s, numerous store fronts renting ATV’s, noise, traffic, trail destruction and more.
In my mind, the Sedona we loved living here for over 30 years is gone and forever, destroyed. More marketing brings more hotels, more traffic, more ATVs, more noise (Drone tours on trails for Pete’s sake). Is there an end game? Not really. Just more. The council has been negligent in protecting Sedona from becoming a mini-Phoenix, complicit by building more tourist amenities, encouraging yet more traffic, etc.
I do remember driving or riding uptown to grab dinner or ice cream. When was the last time a resident tried that? It took me 40 minutes to get to SAC from West Sedona last week.
Do I have a solution? Nope. It’s too late to save what once was. Tragic . . . At least I have grand memories of the wonderful days few will experience now.