On a slow news day it is tempting to run humorous stories. However, we think it is inappropriate to single out Northgate Tours for the mishap of the two New Zealand women. While their story has a whiff of human interest, it could easily have been written without the nefarious implications about our neighbor Ben's business.
With its tone of investigation, the implication of ``several'' complaints and the withheld names, the article reads as a smear. While nobody benefits from this, it greatly harms a downtown business struggling to survive in a competitive market dominated by wealthy, international corporations.
Clerical errors, lost information and purposeful overbooking are common among Juneau tour operators. The large hotels that surround us occasionally call our six-room inn at 2 a.m. looking for rooms, because they have oversold.
Why is such a story in the front page? The most important ``news'' in this article is that yes, it is difficult to depend on your cellular phone when cruise ships are in town. Also, it is hard to get and keep good help and local men will gladly go out of their way to help young foreign women.
Ben, it appears to us, is a hard-working businessman. His shuttle bus and tour-booking business provide important services for independent travelers, the type of visitors who spend the most money locally. Whatever the error that led to these two ladies' misfortune, it is not worth the damage done to his business by such prominent and one-sided reportage.
Jill Ramiel and Ken Alper
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