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June 10, 2013

It is important for every resident in Sedona, and the watershed community, to understand not only how much time and effort is put into the marketing efforts aimed at sustainable tourism, but also how much support is needed from an organization like OCWC in order to help deal with the environmental impact of 3 million plus visitors.  It is a team effort that requires adequate funding for each member.

 The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.

Sustainable tourism should also make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

Those on the front line of tourism development are working to the max in order to maintain the flow of visitors to the Sedona area. The concern is not just the numbers of people but the amount of discretionary income they bring with them to spend. During recessionary times, people tend to look but not spend, or not spend as much. Marketing services and products is therefore as extremely important as the initial effort to promote the area’s attractions.  Increased visitor numbers also results in an increase in the environmental impact, and budgets need to be adjusted to support these costs, too.

Sustainable tourism efforts are comprehensive and take time and funding, but you have to spend money to make money. With a limited budget, the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Bureau and others are losing ground against states and cities elsewhere that see the value of the tourism investment and fund much larger budgets.

This economy is showing signs across the board of turning around. Consumer confidence is rising. Interest in the Sedona – Oak Creek Canyon area is still high. It may take some time before discretionary income levels reach pre-recession times, but NOW is the time to INCREASE marketing efforts and help build up revenues from sales taxes, etc. It’s a win-win for every Sedona citizen and a time for bold support of tourism and environmental professionals. It's also a time for working together.

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