Tourism committee making progress

Posted: Friday, January 07, 2000

The article in last Thursday's Juneau Empire regarding the Tourism Advisory Committee and the Assembly Planning and Policy Committee did not accurately represent the joint meeting on Dec. 13 or the work accomplished by the TAC over the last several years.

The frustrations reported at the meeting are real and as a member of TAC I share some of them. But what was also discussed but not reported by the Empire was the positive role that TAC has served.

The TAC is a committee made up of nine volunteers. Two members are from the tourism industry, one is from a downtown gift shop, and the remaining six are private citizens. In the two-plus years that the TAC has been in existence it has established a tourism hot line to help identify the impacts of the industry, and conducted two surveys to more precisely identify those impacts and track how they may be changing.

It has worked with the tour operators to make changes in tour operations to lessen impacts. The TAC has developed voluntary compliance guidelines that have eliminated tour buses from parts of downtown and neighborhood areas, set aside non-tour areas, and reduced the hours for flightseeing trips, to name a few of the guidelines.

One of the most valuable functions of the TAC has been as a forum that can bring together diverse viewpoints that include the various committees, departments, agencies and citizens for the discussion of tourism issues. This has not always been an easy task but the TAC has endeavored to define and focus on the most important of these issues, and bring together the involved parties to develop understanding and identify solutions.

The volunteers that have served on the TAC and its predecessor, the Tourism Working Group, have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort, and in light of the limited resources of the committee, have made a substantial contribution to a constructive planning process for tourism in Juneau. It is an appropriate and necessary step for the assembly to become more directly involved in tourism issues as they are through the Planning and Policy Committee.

What role the TAC will now serve remains to be seen. But what is most important for this community is that the process moves ahead in a respectful and constructive manner.

Bob Engelbrecht

This letter is republished due to typographical errors that appeared in the letter, originally printed Dec. 23.

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