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Since spring break season began, traffic has swelled in Sedona.

Anyone who has tried to drive from one end of Sedona to the other knows this must be a big year for spring tourism.

Lines of traffic stream from one stoplight to the next, and sometimes motorists sit through multiple red lights at the same intersection.

The congestion did ease up this week, but the out-of-town and rental car license plates are still in abundance.

Sedona Red Rock News Managing Editor Trista Steers MacVittieWhile increased traffic can be unnerving when it takes an extra 10 minutes to get anywhere, it’s a good sign for a community that relies almost solely on tourism for support.

According to Sedona Chamber of Commerce Director of Visitor Services Donna Retegan, 51,150 people visited the chamber’s Visitor Center in Uptown between March 1 and Wednesday, April 10.

When the economy tanked, so did travel, and spending in Sedona dropped right along with tourist numbers.

Businesses struggled and the city took in fewer tax dollars, forcing everyone to tighten their belts and make cuts where any excess could be found.

Some businesses weathered the storm while some did not, and the city trimmed its staff and operations to create a sustainable financial atmosphere putting it in a positive position as the economy slowly improves.

After a few years in the dumps, consumers gradually regained their confidence as the economy began to stabilize.

Slowly, but surely, more and more people again chose Sedona as their travel destination.

The city has nothing to worry about when it comes to attracting visitors, as long as those visitors know what they’ll find when they reach the end of the red rock road.

Beautiful vistas, a tranquil atmosphere, a vibrant art scene and endless miles of nature to explore attract people who want to experience the Sedona magic they’ve heard about from others who have visited.

When the visitors returned, however, they weren’t the same people we saw before the recession.

The new tourists kept their purse strings tight and were more likely to window shop than purchase anything. Their presence may have boosted hotel occupancy bringing in more bed tax, and they had to eat somewhere, so restaurants and bars most likely benefited.

Retail, however, did not see the swing. Visitors were all over Uptown, but most of them weren’t carrying a shopping bag.

Since then, the retail market appears to have improved, but growth will be slow, and it may never reach the levels seen before.

If there’s one thing Americans learned over the last few years, it’s to watch their pennies and not spend their money like it grows on trees.

People from the top all the way down suffered, and improvement will be slow, but hopefully steady.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

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