Sedona, Ariz. (April 5, 2023) The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau Board of Directors voted unanimously this week not to renew its tourism contract with the City of Sedona, opening new directions for visitor marketing and management in Red Rock Country, one of the nation’s premier tourism destinations.
“Small-town destinations in the West known for outdoor recreation face challenges related to overcrowding, environmental concerns and resource management, and Sedona is no exception,” said SCC&TB Board Chair Jennifer Perry. “At the same time, our economies depend on tourism, and we compete with other destinations for the tourism dollar.”
“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.”