The End of Tourism As We Know It | Visit Sedona

The End of Tourism As We Know It

Implementing the Sustainable Tourism Plan

The Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan (STP) marks the end of an era and the dawn of a new day. We now say goodbye to the idea of our visitor as a mass consumer seeking a few snapshots and experiencing Sedona mostly through a windshield.

Today, we welcome a new traveler, a discerning soul seeking a shareable experience that resonates with their relationships, self-image and sense of what is authentic and unique.

Today, we launch a new type of Sedona advocacy, promoting responsible visitor behavior that respects our environment and the sensibilities of our residents – while offering travelers every opportunity to reduce their impact and be part of a sustainable future.  

Today, we celebrate new approaches to traffic - our most challenging problem - with infrastructure, technology, transit and visitor education programs that tackle traffic from all directions.

We now seek to enable the experiential desires within each traveler and make a longer stay irresistible - whether we are welcoming  foodies, spiritual seekers, seasoned hikers, celestial photographers, off-road ramblers, conferees inspired to relocate a business, adventurers, techies open to new ways of living and working, rock climbers, searchers for peace from the tumult of life, nature-inspired art lovers, or a little bit of all of these.

Today, we embrace a new era of promoting Sedona through instead of to our visitors, giving them experiences they can instantly share with their world of connected kindred spirits – including the wonderful sense of place Sedonans hold so close to our hearts. 

The STP is a set of solutions and objectives born of collaboration – it is the authentic voice of Sedonans calling for change.  At the center is everything we cherish and share with the world – our environment, our quality of life, the quality of our economy and the experience of being here. 

These first steps acknowledge the new truths animating today’s traveler – a desire for memorable, shareable connections with the people, culture and stunning landscapes that make Sedona a siren song heard around the world.

In launching the STP, we set sail for a tourism future that sustains what we love, embraces travelers who share our values, educates those who may need a nudge, responds to our challenges, and adds value by attracting those travelers - and only those travelers - who hear the call of the real Sedona.

What a voyage it will be!


Five Road Signs to a New Beginning

The big picture of tourism is changing all around us. Adapting to change - leading the change - presents exciting new opportunities. These five movements are some of the seismic shifts defining the new era in tourism.

1. Locals are deeply engaged in defining the experience

Travelers experience other people, not rocks, no matter how beautiful. Encountering nature is a moving, awe-inspiring experience, but connecting with people make ‘instant friendships’ and long-lasting memories for traveler and locals alike.  Harmonious interaction between travelers and Sedonans helps deliver an authentic experience while enhancing our quality of life.

2. Visitors desire “temporary localhood”

Think of your travel experience. Do you want locals to think of you as a tourist?  Today, fewer and fewer people do. Why?  Because travelers seek to immerse themselves in their destination, to see it the way the local people do.  They want to know: How has living here changed you? How can we feel what you feel?   Achieving a temporary sense of localhood touches something deep in every traveler and changes Sedona from a simple vacation into a life-changing experience. 

3. Growth of Global Urban Middle Class

World population and GDP are increasingly concentrated in cities. 80% of global GDP is generated in urban areas. By 2050, urban dwellers will account for approximately 70% of world population. Ninety percent of global urban growth will occur in today’s developing world. 

All signs point to continued expansion of an urban middle class in the US and abroad, and accelerating growth in travel as more people can afford to explore their world.

Sedona needs continual conversation and collaboration to ensure that our visitor management tactics balance our environment, quality of life, quality of our economy and the experience visitors seek.

4. Destination Management

Travelers seeking authentic experiences of temporary localhood blend perfectly with Sedona’s desire for sustainable tourism management.  Our role is shifting toward developing the right experiences for the right kind of traveler at the right time of year – while integrating our residents into the traveler’s sense of Sedona. As people define travel by discovering unique moments and immersion in a sense of place, how we attract, manage and interact with travelers is changing.

5. Data, data, data

Everyone and everything generate data. With advanced analysis, we can hyper-target travelers who value environmental awareness, appreciation for our quality of life, and respect for our unique economy and experiences – building a positive loop of attracting sustainable visitors who love a sustainable Sedona.

Reporting real-time traffic and parking conditions is only an early first step toward actionable information on visitor behavior, demographics and business potential. Constant data crunching and reporting will allow us to balance economic activity, manage traffic and pedestrian flow, disperse crowds and more in something very close to real time.

We are integrating data to produce dynamic online dashboards so the world and the community can see progress on each of our sustainability goals.

The Essence of Sedona

The allure of Sedona is multi-faceted, appealing to many sides of each individual traveler and defined by the four features of Sedona’s true essence.

1.  Arts & Culture

Sedona is animated by the arts, with more than 80 galleries and shops, resident and visiting artists, and deep connections to Native American culture and artistic heritage. The renowned Sedona International Film Festival attracts top film makers, while the Mary D. Fisher Theatre and Sedona Performing Arts Center feature live performances and films from around world. Our culinary experiences are among the Southwest’s finest and our nearby historic sites, indigenous ruins, state parks and national monuments honor our past while preserving our heritage.

2. Outdoor Adventure

Encountering the majesty of our red rocks is an outdoor experience like no other.  With more than 300 miles of accessible trails and 200 miles of single-track bike trails, walkers, bikers, hikers, photographers, birdwatchers, nature lovers and serenity seekers can immerse themselves in a nature experience found nowhere else on earth.  Whether travelers see Sedona by hot air balloon, Jeep, Segway, ATV, OHV or aerial tour, there is adventure for every taste.  River tours, fishing and swimming in Oak Creek, spectacular scenic drives, golf, and of course, stargazing our famously dark skies add to the list of thrills available to everyone.

3. Spirituality and Wellness

Travelers relaxing in luxurious resorts and fragrant spas also partake of inner journeys of spiritual discovery by experiencing world-renowned meditation retreats, vortex experiences, spiritually aligned eco and native heritage tours, yoga and spiritual development classes. Celebrating the spirit of universal interconnectedness, Sedona is an international beacon for spiritual and metaphysical enrichment.

4. Sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of Sedona’s future. By instituting best practices to balance our environment, resident quality of life, quality of our economy and our visitor experience, Sedona is defining a destination where residents and travelers welcome each other and support our mutual interests. 
Through the STP, Sedona has defined strategies to manage traffic, reduce overcrowding, improve transportation, engage visitors in sustainability activities, reduce water and energy use in our tourism industry, leverage technology and attract the right visitors at the right time.

Working together, Sedona can be a national leader in sustainable tourism policy and by so doing, attract visitors equally committed to sustainable travel.

Our Vision and our Mission


Sedona, with its legendary red rock beauty, is a world-class, year-round destination providing inspiring arts and culture, exhilarating outdoor adventure and wellness in a friendly and sustainable environment. 


To serve the community by making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.

Core Values

  • Community-minded
  • Professionalism
  • Sustainability
  • Partnerships
  • Innovation
  • Dedication
  • Effectiveness
  • Exceptional Service
  • Accountability

Stakeholder Promise

We promise to provide our stakeholders with opportunities to build and grow their business. 

Community Promise

We promise to be good stewards of Sedona and to sustain a reasonable balance between quality of life and economic interests.

Visitor Promise  
We promise to provide a positive and memorable visitor experience. 

Brand Promise    
Sedona will change you.

Our Four Pillars

Implementation Tactics

The end of tourism as we know it starts by bringing Sustainable Tourism in Sedona to life. The Chamber and our community partners are advancing more than a dozen first steps this fiscal year. Here is a sampling of what we are doing together:

·        Expanding ‘Leave No Trace’ principles 

·        Stabilizing funding for trail maintenance (Sedona Trail Keepers and Red Rock Trail Fund)

·        Educating visitors to be sensitive guests

·        Developing and promoting Voluntourism programs where visitors can give back

·        Exploring new parking facilities and reducing parking demand in high-use areas

·        Using technology to communicate real-time traffic and trail conditions

·        Developing sustainable visitor experiences, such as dark sky-themed events

·        Enhancing walkability to get people out of their cars

·        Educating visitors about courteous Off-Highway Vehicle use

·        Monitoring and moderating helicopter noise

·        Minimizing disruption of Sedona in Motion projects 

·        Developing a Sedona Pledge


A Look Ahead

These first steps support deeper structural change, expressed in the Plan’s medium and long-term tactics.

A sampling:

·        Advocate that development aligns with sustainability goals

·        Monitor trail use and introduce programs that distribute visitors

·        Limit the impact of trailhead parking in Sedona neighborhoods

·        Develop voluntourism experiences that restore and enhance our trails and environment

·        Encourage elimination of pesticides and other chemicals that may harm the environment

·        Create a dynamic online presence where Sedona and the world can follow our progress


How You Can Get Involved Today

·        Review the STP tactical plans. You will see which local groups are leading each tactic. Take the opportunity to join the ones that most appeal to you.

·        Work with the Sustainability Alliance to become a certified Sedona Sustainable Business. 

·        Volunteer at any of the voluntourism events – make a difference and get to know our Sedona visitors.

Act Today to Change Tomorrow

The End of Tourism as we Know It. It’s a dramatic phrase, but appropriate. Through participation in the STP and with the unanimous approval of our City Council, Sedona chose a way forward defined by change – change in our transportation infrastructure, change in our tourism management strategies, but most critically, change in ourselves. 

In balancing the Four Pillars of a sustainable Sedona, we welcome travelers seeking adventure, authenticity, renewal and temporary localhood. We also open ourselves - sharing our culture, lifestyle and passion for Sedona. Travelers encounter a new experience - a balanced Sedona - and join in the responsibility for achieving that balance.

For Sedonans, The End of Tourism as we Know It affirms to the world the values we cherish. We also seek a new bond with travelers who share our love and respect for this Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Vow to get involved today - and thank you for being a Sedona change agent!