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Tourism Best Management Practices program expands for 2011 season

Posted: April 13, 2011 - 9:13pm

The Tourism Best Management Practices (TBMP) program has added some new guidelines this year in its goal to promote responsible tourism.

TBMP is a volunteer effort for local tour operators and businesses, intended to minimize the impacts of tourism here while enhancing visitor experiences. It covers responsibility in areas such as transportation and vehicles, hiking, ziplines, cruise ships and others plus touring by land, water and air. Businesses with the program agree to maintain the guidelines within their own practices, having their employees do the same.

This year the program is including downtown tour brokers, retailers, restaurants and some new transportation guidelines.

“We tried to incorporate different sectors of the industry that deal with tourists every day,” said Kirby Day of Princess Cruises and Tours, who coordinates TBMP.

There are numerous guidelines for tour operators on the docks. These include agreeing to responsible practices like not interfering with other brokers’ activities, practicing good ambassadorship, not smoking in their booths, not giving false information and avoiding disruptive behavior.

“We wanted to include tour brokers. We thought since they’re working with the public every day and they’re seeing lots of visitors off the ships that it would be good to incorporate their businesses as well,” said Day.

Retailers and restaurants also join the list of operators. Day said an example TBMP stresses to both entities is to avoid sweeping litter into the streets, since street sweepers may have already made their rounds. Other things for merchants include courtesies like avoiding misleading information and sidewalk hawking plus considering leaving outside lights or motion sensors on at night when possible.

“Like tour brokers, they see a lot of visitors and we think these are some things they’re already doing,” said Day.

He said the guidelines set by TBMP are mostly “little things” that many businesses do already and most operators think are the right things to do. He said that, in a cumulative effort, it all maintains Juneau’s integrity for both residents and visitors during the increased traffic period.

“The whole emphasis is to reduce the impacts of tourism in the community by basically having operators critique their businesses and ways they operate so they operate in a more neighborhood and community friendly manner,” Day said.

Two guidelines have been added to the existing transportation section. These require drivers to refrain from emailing or texting and use only hands-free cell phones when operating vehicles.

Caribou Crossings Owner Tanja Cadigan has signed onto the program for the first time this year, as have other retailers. She said TBMP is about committing to working together to ensure visitors get the most out of their Juneau experience and being responsible community members.

“As a longtime downtown retailer, I’m really excited to be part of such a reputable, strong program,” she said. “They’ve really built a solid reputation in the visitor industry and I’m pleased to be part of their expansion.”

“It really affirms, at least, my commitment to representing Juneau in a really positive way,” she said. “Collectively, we all have close interaction with the visitors and it would be great if we can be all on same page while also being good neighbors in the community.”

TBMP started in 1997 as a way to handle the impact from the increasing number of large cruise vessels around that time. It was put into place from a collaborative effort by tour operators, the city, Tourism Working Group, Tourism Advisory Committee and public input. It remains a completely voluntary program.

Day said the program has grown rapidly since its beginning, with 95 percent of tour operators which have the most potential to cause impact to the community signed onto the program. In 2010, there were 60 tourism-related companies and more than 1,300 employees onboard.

“The program has really matured and really addressed the majority of concerns residents had in the mid-90s. We’ve made a lot of progress. Of course, we’re thankful to the operators for this,” said Lorene Palmer, president and chief executive officer of the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau. JCVB handles the administrative duties for TBMP.

TBMP also relies on public input for its guidelines. A public meeting is held every spring, and there is a hotline at 586-6774 or hotline@traveljuneau.com.

TBMP has received widespread recognition, even winning a national award in 2004 from a tourism management case study from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It also got a write-up in another university textbook.

TBMP guidelines can be found on the website www.tbmp.info. Palmer said they will be added to the City and Borough of Juneau website and are also available at the police department and libraries.

The program is funded through the local passenger fee, which was $12,000 last year.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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