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The My Turn column by Mayor Kathie Wasserman of Pelican in the June 6 Empire prompts me to provide an additional perspective as a Juneau bed and breakfast host.
Ms. Wasserman referred to the lack of baggage storage at the airport. Our guests have noted the same problem. Juneau is the most popular destination in Southeast Alaska and many people use it as a hub while exploring more remote areas. For them, baggage storage while in transit is a fundamental need.
This year, I have also been embarrassed to tell guests that the only way into town from the ferry terminal is via a $25 cab fare. That means someone will spend $50 round trip to get from the ferry to downtown and back again. How many people decide to bypass Juneau just because of the initial "entry fee?" This is 10 times the $5 head tax to which the cruise industry so vociferously objected.
We are no longer members of the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau (JCVB). We dropped out several years ago when they raised their membership fees and we realized we could get just as much for our money by advertising with the Juneau Symphony, Perseverance Theatre and the Alaska Folk Festival. Nevertheless, 4 percent of our gross receipts goes to the JCVB from the bed tax. For this, we receive no benefits, no listing in the Juneau Visitors Guide, no brochures at the airport, the Davis Log Cabin, etc. From our perspective, JCVB has also done very little in the way of providing services to our guests or even encouraging the basic infrastructure to make them feel welcome.
Using the bed tax to subsidize Capital Transit or shuttle service to the ferry terminal and to provide baggage storage at the airport would be a boon to independent travelers. After all, independent travelers are the ones who provide funding, through the bed tax, for JCVB.
Alternatively, let us determine which agencies will best promote the interests of our guests and let us pay them the 4 percent bed tax.
Crondahl's Bed & Breakfast