Pay heed to those words from the north

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2000

A couple of days ago we ran an editorial from the Anchorage Times, which once again pushed for moving the capital. This time the Times used conflicts over tourism as an example of Juneau being out of touch with the rest of the state.

With all due respect to the Times, which is entitled to its opinion, trying to tie our local debates over tourism with a reason to move the capital is a little far-fetched.

But at its core, the editorial is saying something that we need to hear. A lot of people throughout the state read the Times editorials. A lot of people also agree with them. And the point we need to hear is that, rightly or wrongly, Juneau is often perceived as ``anti-everything.''

For those who missed the editorial, here's part of it: ``With a close-the-door-now-that-we're-here attitude, the environmental activists - aided by funding from the lock-up-Alaska lobbies Outside - began to flex their muscle. Save the Tongass. Stop logging. Fight mining. Beat up on the cruise ship industry that brought millions of dollars into the Juneau economy and offered tens of thousands of other Americans the opportunity to enjoy the scenic splendor of Juneau ... Now they're after one of the attractions offered to cruise ship travelers - helicopter sight-seeing flights over the Mendenhall Glacier and the Juneau Ice Cap. Too Noisy. Too many of them. Filling the skies with visual pollution. Terrible.''

Think that's going too far? Think anyone else in the state read that and went, ``yep, that's Juneau.''

Despite those who oppose tourism growth, we're fortunate here that we have responsible and responsive businesses here catering to tourists. They've changed bus routes, changed flight paths, changed just about everything in an effort to appease those who want to restrict access to visitors experiencing our little slice of heaven.

And we're fortunate they are taking a more and more pro-active stance. Groups like the Alaska Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and Destination Juneau, to name just a few, are fighting back to show the rest of the state we're not ``anti-everything.''

It is a cold hard fact of life that perception is reality. The perception is Juneau is against everything, even though the facts don't bear that out. It's important that we as a community, working with groups like those just mentioned, do everything in our power to change that perception.

If we don't - and this is the really ironic part - the only thing left in this town will be the tourists and the businesses that cater to them. Everyone else would have moved with their jobs.

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