'Best Management Practices' aim to combat tourism problems

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

When the cruise ships sail into town and the buses and helicopters start moving, Juneau residents will have an opportunity to make their own noise for local tour operators.

Tourism Best Management Practices contacts

• E-mail address: tourismhotline@ci.juneau.ak.us

• Phone hotline: 586-6774

• Web link: www.juneau.org/tourism

The Tourism Best Management Practices program will be in effect again this year, and residents are invited to voice their concerns with local tour companies on a public comment phone line and e-mail address.

An anticipated 60 companies will sign the plan to reduce the negative impacts of tourism in Juneau, said Kirby Day, local director of operations for Princess Cruises and Tours. He has worked on the Tourism Best Management Practices since the plan's inception in 1997.

"When you're dealing with hundreds of employees, somebody is going to make a mistake at some point," said Day. "If you were cut off by a bus ... believe me, we as a company want to know that."

Day hopes a thousand visitor industry employees will participate in the program. Last year, 50 companies and 877 employees participated.

Participating companies agree to follow the regulations of an eight-page document that covers issues from tour bus traffic flow to helicopter noise to cruise ship emissions. A draft of the 2003 document is online at www.juneau.org/tourism.

The regulations were developed "through a lot of meetings, a lot of public hearings and a lot of the tour operators getting together and trying to see what changes can be made," said Cindy Bowhay, an owner of Glacier Gardens. Her company will participate in the program this summer.

"I don't know how much it impacts us because we are not in the downtown area or a transporter of people, but those buses do bring people out to our facility," she said. "We all live in this community and we're all neighbors and I think we all have a stake in everything, whether it's direct or indirect."

The comment hotline and e-mail address will be administered by the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Lorene Palmer, president and CEO of the bureau.

Comments on the hotline will be directed to the company named in the phone call or e-mail, Day said.

"For instance, if somebody calls into the hotline and says there was a minibus on Fifth Street that shouldn't have been there, somebody will e-mail me that from the hotline," he said. "I'll do some research on that, then I'll go back to the hotline or the person who called if they left their name and number and tell them they're right and we'll try to fix it."

The city Web site will post comments and how problems were resolved, Day said.

The city is providing some financial support to the program and providing space on the Web site, said Maria Gladziszewski, Juneau's tourism office director.

"The intent is to help operators with the program and help support the program in terms of paying for ads and paying for someone to staff the hotline," she said. "We think it's done some great things, has helped a lot and appreciate the efforts and the many hours the operators have put into the program."

This year's plan differs from those of previous years in its incorporation of an internal observation component, Day said.

"If I'm out there and I happen to see another company's employee make a mistake somehow, or be in a spot they shouldn't, I can come back or an employee can come back and fill out what they saw, and their manager will send it to that respective company," Day said. "That way we're kind of watching over each other, too."



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