Sedona Chamber severs 20-year contract with City of Sedona
The Sedona Chamber and Tourism Bureau has chosen to sever its 20-year tourism management contract with the City of Sedona.
According to Michelle Conway, President and CEO of Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, there have been long-term differences of opinion with the City Council regarding management and especially on the marketing of Sedona to build a sustainable tourism base. After dealing with challenges such as traffic, trail congestion and the pressure of three million visitors annually to a town of fewer than 10,000 people, Conway says the Chamber feels its expertise is not being utilized to balance the economy, the environment and the local quality of life in a place much beloved by Arizonans.
“One of the missions of our organization is to support the business community,” Conway said. “For the last two going on three years, we’ve been prohibited from marketing the destinations. We are a destination marketing organization, so we were asked to change our stripes and be something that was very challenging. We’re in the middle of our business community and city politics, and so we decided to make a change to allow us to better support business community and not have shackles on our hands anymore.”
The “shackles” were placed because when COVID hit, Sedona experienced a lot of tourism. At that point, a market was not needed because the city was dealing with too much tourism. However, moving forward, a decrease in tourism was seen which affected local businesses in a negative way, according to Conway.
As of July 1, the Chamber will directly manage and market tourism in Sedona without funding generated from the city’s bed tax, which are dollars collected from guests at Sedona hotels. In fact, the Chamber expects the Council to rescind the portion of the bed tax it allocates for tourism promotion and allow hoteliers to keep it.