A new partnership to manage tourism may be in Juneau's future, based on a recommendation in a city tourism plan outline floated Thursday.
Consultants from Egret Communications, who are writing the plan, suggested a partnership or authority be used to develop, promote, track, market, resolve conflicts and manage tourism in Juneau.
Key parts of Juneau's draft long-range tourism plan are:
Establish a Juneau Tourism Partnership.
Resolve flightseeing disputes.
Deal with congestion.
Build a positive environment for business.
Put a "safety valve" mechanism in place, such as a second port outside of Juneau, to manage tourism if certain indicators are met.
A Juneau Tourism Partnership would include community members and business leaders and would exist within a framework established by city government, according to consultant Dave Russell. The partnership would implement the tourism plan and would be designed to withstand short-term political change, he said. Tourism boards and commissions are becoming more popular worldwide, he said.
While the partnership wouldn't replace existing tourism organizations, the role of some entities may need to be refined, according to Bob Harvey, who is heading work on the project. The partnership must be balanced, he said.
"The initial players and positions are very, very important," he said.
The draft plan emphasizes cruise and higher-value destination travel. It calls on Juneau to build a positive environment for business, deal with congestion and resolve flightseeing noise issues. The plan would have a "safety valve," such as a second port outside of Juneau, if capacity is reached.
The safety valve wouldn't hinge on a specific number of visitors, Harvey said. It would address quality-of-life concerns and allow businesses to grow, he said.
"Assigning a hard number ... does you more harm than good and takes away options," he said.
Juneau Assembly members reviewed a draft outline of plan and offered suggestions Thursday. Reaction from the public was largely positive.
Robert Reges, who has advocated for controls on the cruise industry, asked Assembly members to move forward with the plan.
"Anyone who refers to Juneau as divided or divisive hasn't been paying attention for the past couple of weeks," he said.
Kirby Day of Princess Cruises and Tours in Juneau said the tourism industry will continue to support the plan as long as obvious needs, such as dredging Steamship Wharf, aren't held up.
"It may not be as detailed as some people want, but if we follow the guidelines and monitor where were are in the plan and performance ... I expect the industry will support this," he said. "We have to begin to start moving forward."
Assembly member Jeannie Johnson said it is important that the community moves beyond the past and develops trust.
"I see this bringing people together," she said. "I don't think it will be without growing pains, but I think it's something this community can do."
Deputy Mayor Ken Koelsch said more detail is needed in the plan, but things are at a good stage to move ahead. The next step is to see how the community reacts to the draft plan, he said.
"I think the consultant did a lot of work on the plan, and a lot of the communication and mediation aspect to it," he said. "And that's exactly what needed to be done to move us forward."
The draft plan also calls on Juneau to promote cultural tourism, improve its waterfront and position itself as a small meetings and convention host in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. A floatplane history museum and events, and festivals to attract people downtown are other elements.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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