Sustainable Tourism | Visit Sedona

Sustainable Tourism: Finding the Balance


One of the themes that has emerged over the past several years among Sedona residents is finding the balance between the community’s continued economic health, driven largely by tourism revenues, and the attributes that brought so many citizens to Sedona: its natural beauty and livability.

One of the Sedona City Council’s newer priorities is the concept of “sustainable tourism.”

The goal of the sustainable tourism effort is to shift the focus of the city’s contract with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau (SCC&TB) from strictly marketing, sales and communications to a comprehensive approach of destination marketing and management with a greater emphasis on quality of life and managing impacts.  


As a result of an intensive assessment of Sedona by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the SCC&TB selected the Nichols Tourism Group and Arizona State University School of Sustainability in October 2017 to develop Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan.  The purpose of the plan is to achieve and maintain an economic, cultural and environmental balance to keep Sedona’s beauty and livability intact.

The plan will define sustainable tourism as an approach to planning, management, and marketing that constantly monitors and balances the trade-offs between a thriving tourist economy and tourism’s impacts to Sedona’s traffic, natural environment and sense of community.

The experts at ASU tell us that in order for Sedona’s tourism industry to be truly sustainable, there must be a balance among three key tourism benefits and impacts: environmental, socio-cultural and economic. Read the Inception Report.

Environmental. Without the red rocks, Sedona tourism would not exist. Our natural and built environments, including historic buildings and heritage sites, must be preserved. How can we ensure that our natural and built resources will be here for future generations? The Sustainable Tourism Plan will identify ways to heighten awareness of visitor impacts and manage in ways to reduce those impacts.
Socio-cultural. Sedona residents have felt the social and cultural impacts of tourism as we experience increased traffic congestion and overcrowding, and housing impacts that affect tourism workers who can’t afford to live in our community. The goal is to balance the benefits of hospitality with the preservation of Sedona’s unique local character and traditions.

Economic. Every resident of Sedona benefits from tourism, which pays for our police and public safety services, beautiful community parks, cultural amenities, street maintenance and flood control projects. Sustainable tourism means sustaining the visitor tax dollars we need to support services and amenities without compromising our quality of life.

Creating, operationalizing and measuring the success of Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan is a process with many steps.

In addition to gathering data about Sedona’s tourism trends, capacity, infrastructure and impacts, the city and the SCC&TB will listen to citizen and visitor opinions and desires to arrive at a shared vision of sustainable tourism. The process will be guided by a Strategic Advisory Committee (see who sits on this committee below) that includes a variety of residents who bring expertise in environmental, socio-cultural and economic sustainability along with members of Sedona’s tourism and lodging industry and the experts at ASU and Nichols Tourism Group.

Work is underway. The Sustainable Tourism Plan that will be created will include key indicators for measuring, monitoring and, if necessary, correcting any actions that might move us away from a balance of benefits and impacts.

Timeline Sept 2017 - Oct 2018

Strategic Advisory Group:

  1. Cindy Hauserman*
  2. Cynthia Lovely*, City of Sedona
  3. Darcy Hitchcock, Sustainability Alliance
  4. Hank Vincent, Slide Rock State Park
  5. Jennifer Wesselhoff*, Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
  6. Jeremy Hayman*, Sedona Golf Resort
  7. Joanne Kendrick*, Keep Sedona Beautiful
  8. Julie Rowe, US Forest Service
  9. Karen Osburn, City of Sedona
  10. Kyle Larson, Red Rock News
  11. Linda Goldenstein*, Goldenstein Gallery
  12. Lonnie Lillie*
  13. Michelle Conway, Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
  14. Mike Yarbough*, Keep Sedona Beautiful
  15. Nicole Branton, US Forest Service
  16. Russell Dilts, Verde Valley Medical Center

* Residents of the City of Sedona

Advisory Staff:

Christine Vogt, ASU Center for Sustainable Tourism
Kathy Andereck, ASU Center for Sustainable Tourism
Mitch Nichols, Nichols Tourism Group



Contact Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.