Juneau should be welcoming its guests

Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recent complaints about tourism received a lot of attention in the Anchorage Daily News, giving more fodder to those wanting to move the capital from Juneau. There were almost 200 comments and most were not in Juneau's defense.

I understand the frustration residents may have, but those tours have been going up the hill and down those streets for more than 40 years. Many of the complainers have moved into the neighborhood since then. It's too bad they didn't do their due diligence before purchasing property.

Chip Thoma defended his actions. He wrote: "To be very clear, no group is trying to stop tourism or deny access to Juneau's attractions."

Okay, so why do your signs specifically read "STOP LOCAL TOURS"?

Thoma also said a better alternative is to promote a short, walking tour to the Governor's Mansion from Main and Fourth Streets, which also provides easy access to the Capitol and city museum.

The Governor's House is already on the walking tour map. Juneau's poorly designed streets don't work well for many people and few of our streets are properly designed for those who have any mobility impairment - about 10 percent of the U.S. population. Many passengers are elderly so the percentage is likely higher among our visitors.

The young people don't care about looking at some old building when there are rivers to raft, zip lines to ride, whales to watch and fish to catch. The ones that are left are not about to walk several blocks in the rain to stand on the sidewalk corner, only to turn around and walk back the same way from which they came. What they are more likely to do is take a bus tour of Juneau and pass by the Governor's Mansion on the way to see the glacier or go on some other tour.

Thoma also said, "... tours should be conducted in small vehicles that circle the mansion and return to Main Street."

Replacing each bus with 10 to 12 cars would create a lot of new jobs but would just push more traffic into the intersection of Main and Fifth Streets, causing congestion there.

We are very fortunate to live in a place that more than 1 million people a year choose to visit. Juneau is the nation's most beautiful capital city. Especially in this economy, you should be a little more welcoming and accommodating to our guests.

Debbie White

Juneau



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