Sedona’s stunningly beautiful Red Rock formations, mild climate, abundant sunshine, clean air, small-town charm, and welcoming attitude has attracted nature lovers, artists and spiritual seekers for decades.
Situated at the mouth of spectacular Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona is, in the words of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, “…equal or superior to many national parks.”
Sedona is rated a top destination by publications such as Conde Nast Traveler and New York Times. Almost all of our three million annual visitors rate Sedona as an excellent experience and plan to return.
In addition to savoring a memorable experience, Sedona visitors contribute 77 percent of the city’s annual sales tax revenue, have an annual economic impact of more than a billion dollars, and support an economic infrastructure that provides 10,000 jobs, making tourism the area’s most significant industry.
However, in recent years, Sedonans have grown concerned about being ‘loved to death’ due to increased traffic congestion, overcrowding and unease about environmental impacts.
A Community Responds
In an unprecedented response, thousands of Sedonans rallied to the concept of sustainable tourism. In an extraordinary 18-month community conversation, Sedona united behind a comprehensive plan to balance our small-town quality of life, unique natural environment and bustling tourism economy.
A partnership of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, the Sedona City Council, the Arizona State University School of Sustainability and the Nichols Tourism Group coordinated the effort. Through resident surveys, visitor intercept interviews, public meetings, online input, and focus groups with nonprofits, land managers, and tourism leaders, a consensus emerged that a sustainable Sedona requires an ongoing collaboration of residents, community groups and visitors themselves.
The Plan identifies four pillars critical for a balanced, sustainable future:
Sedona’s Four Sustainability Pillars
- Resident Quality of Life
- Quality of the Economy
- Visitor Experience
Each pillar is assigned broad objectives with specific tactics and performance metrics. The Plan holds Sedonans themselves accountable for implementation, identifying which community groups will work together to accomplish each tactic and setting out a timeframe for each.
On July 23rd 2019, at the gala celebrating statewide excellence at the 2019 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Tucson, the Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan and the Chamber were honored for the first time with the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Arizona Cultural and Historic Preservation. The award recognizes the year’s “most significant contribution to the cultural and historic preservation of the natural, cultural or aesthetic legacy of Arizona that inspires visitation to the state.” That is precisely what we did in creating a plan balancing our one-of-a-kind environment and quality of life with respect for our economy and an understanding that travelers are here for a special experience.