Empire Editorial: Now that the cruise ships are gone

As the ship Oosterdam sails away this Wednesday at 9 p.m. carrying 3,476 people, including crew and passengers, it will represent the last cruise ship until next spring for Juneau and the last of an estimated 1,271,773 seasonal visitors that had access to our restaurants, bars, art galleries, movie theaters and retail shops.

The city of Juneau and its business community are grateful to cruise companies such as Holland America, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, American Safari and Royal Caribbean, among others.

Its clear that the millions of seasonal dollars injected in the local economy likely will not be duplicated in the fall; after all, according to a 2010 State of Alaska economic report on visitor spending prepared by the McDowell Group, the cruise industry is 42 percent of our overall visitor spending.

However, as impactful as the five-month cruise ship economic boost is, there are still many thriving downtown businesses and tour operators that remain open long after the rear of the Oosterdam is no longer visible and the seasonal shops and vendors have hibernated for winter. We must keep in mind that our remaining downtown businesses are also staples of Juneau culture and enterprise, and of course, are very important annual contributors to the city tax base.

We take a moment to shamelessly plug these businesses because they often receive little fanfare as the exciting sounds of summer diminish.

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Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:48

Letter: Let the homeless stay

As a lifelong Juneau resident I, too, have been concerned about the rise in high profile homelessness in downtown. When I was growing up, it was very rare to see people sleeping out in doorways and on sidewalks — but I think this should elicit empathy and compassion on our part as citizens rather than a knee-jerk initiative to drive a group of people out of downtown.

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Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:48

Letter: Gov. Walker’s decision on Juneau Access the right choice

I want to applaud Gov. Bill Walker’s recent decision to support ferry service and stop spending money on the extremely costly and dangerous Juneau road. Even if the state of Alaska was not in a difficult budget crisis, the move to use the money allocated for this project is better spent on more important transportation endeavors.

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Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:47

Letter: On income tax

Have you wondered about the person putting all the commercials on TV and in the newspapers opposing an Alaska income tax? His name is Robert (Bob) Gillam, and according to Forbes Magazine, he was the wealthiest person in Alaska in 2016. Sounds to me like “Don’t tax me” and “What $3 billion budget crisis?”

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Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:47

Letter: Encourage Alaska’s Congressional delegation to protect, fund Alaska’s parks

When I was 27, I was hired as the captain of Glacier Bay National Park’s tour boat, Thunder Bay. It wasn’t until that summer that I really took in the mysteries and wonders of our natural world. I sat with a Park Service naturalist right next to me for 97 days, 12 hours per day that summer.

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