City wrestles with tourism committee

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

The Juneau Assembly wants a collaborative partnership between community members and local businesses to oversee tourism planning, but is struggling with how to create one.

So far, the Assembly has looked at a committee with split industry-public representatives tentatively called the Juneau Tourism Partnership, a cross-agency network of established groups called the Juneau Tourism Network, and hybrid of the two.

The topic was a subject of debate at a Juneau Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday. Assembly members are asking for more public input at 6 p.m. Monday in Assembly chambers.

The idea of the Juneau Tourism Partnership came from Egret Communications, the consultants who drafted the city's new long-range tourism plan. But Rosemary Hagevig, chairwoman of the chamber's tourism committee, said the proposal is too much like the city's old Tourism Working Group and Tourism Advisory Committee, which failed in the long run.

The chamber favors a Juneau Tourism Network with representatives from the city's neighborhood associations, the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Juneau Economic Development Council, the chamber, the city's enterprise boards and other groups, she said.

Assembly has three proposals

• Juneau Tourism Partnership: Suggested by the consultants who prepared the draft plan. It would have three members representing the tourism industry and three members representing the public. Two more members, representing the U.S. Forest Service and the city, wouldnt vote.

• Juneau Tourism Network: Suggested by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and other groups. It would include representatives from the citys neighborhood associations, the Juneau Airport Board, the Juneau Economic Development Council, the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, the citys Docks and Harbors Board, the chamber, the citys community Development Department, the Bartlett Regional Hospital Board and Capital Transit. Two Assembly members also would sit on the panel.

• A hybrid: Suggested by city staff members for discussion. This proposal would set up a Juneau Tourism Network to handle destination marketing and tourism product development, and a 10-member Juneau Tourism Partnership to oversee tourism discussions.

"We think a fresh approach has a chance, rather than recycle a model with limited efficacy," she said.

Assembly member Marc Wheeler, who favors a partnership model, said Juneau can learn from its past failures. He'd like to see a group that reaches consensus, comes up with new ideas and operates on a model proposed by civic consultant David Chrislip in his book "Collaborative Leadership," he said.

"We want the community to come up with a shared vision and strategies to get there," Wheeler said. "I feel so strongly about collaboration that without it, I'm not going to vote for (the tourism plan)."

Assembly members also have discussed setting up a Juneau Tourism Network and a Juneau Tourism Partnership. Chamber past president Bruce Abel wasn't sold on one option or the other, but said a combination of the two would create bureaucracy.

"From an organizational theory and operation standpoint, this will not work," he said. "It's the perfect definition of insanity."

Putting an even number of people on a panel would be ineffective, Abel added.

Shawn Paul, who served on the Tourism Working Group and the Tourism Advisory Committee, said the key will be finding the right people to guide the discussions.

"The problem isn't necessarily with the numbers, but who is able to get something done and who is able to get the city Assembly to listen to them," he said.

Paula Terrel, a board member on the Thane Neighborhood Association, told Assembly members at a meeting earlier this summer that the public needs to be at the table.

"Whatever configuration is finally decided upon, it should be a conversation and collaboration. Not testimony to, but working with," she said.

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