My turn: Cruise ship disclosure a harmful intrusion into business

Posted: Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is there anything wrong with cruise lines advertising shops, tours, or other services on the ships? Is there anything wrong with selling those services to their passengers before they disembark? Is there something wrong with passengers reading an advertisement in a local restaurant or shop or purchasing a tour or service on their own once they are on shore?

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The answer is a resounding "no" to all these questions. All this is just the normal course of the visitor business.

Nonetheless, Ballot Measure 2 requires disclosures to cruise passengers the confidential amounts local businesses pay to cruise lines for the privilege of selling their tours on board or promoting their business or products to cruise passengers.

These disclosures are an unnecessary and harmful intrusion into ordinary business conduct for the tourism industry. Revealing to competitors and the public the wholesale prices of the service or product along with the commissions or other advertising fees is extremely unfair.

Nowhere in America are stores, entertainment outlets or other services required to reveal how much they spend on advertising or commissions to sell their product to their customers in any venue. Local businesses shouldn't be punished just because they have a business relationship with the cruise lines.

Does the Juneau Empire disclose to subscribers how much it costs them to print and distribute the paper compared to how much they charge you for a subscription? Do they also disclose to you how much it costs them to insert an advertisement compared to how much they charge the business buying the ad? When you look at the price for a gallon of laundry soap on the shelf at the grocery store, do you expect the local grocery store to tell you how much they paid the wholesale distributor for it? Is that fair to the store owner? Would it be fair to the newspaper?

Pricing decisions by any business are made based on the entire process of moving inventory or providing services.

Specials and discounts and promotions and service options are juggled in relation to the overall needs of the business in addition to profit margins per item. Cruise lines and our local businesses who work with them are no different.

Section 10 of Ballot Measure 2 is just punitive and unnecessary and will hurt Alaskan-owned businesses. You may support some elements of Measure 2, but you can't cherry pick when you are in the voting booth - it's a yes or no on the whole package.

I urge you to support and defend local businesses to operate freely and without unjust requirements that harm them. Tell the proponents of Measure 2 to go back to the drawing board and vote no on Measure 2.

• Tim McDonnell is a Juneau resident and the vice president of tours and marketing for TEMSCO Helicopters Inc.

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