The first web poll on tourism has so far seen 944 respondents, including 835 registered voters and 109 students. City staff worked quickly to resolve a couple of glitches Saturday morning, which prevented access to the polling form. City Manager Dave Palmer and his staff have been busy fielding questions on technical issues and concerns about eligibility to participate.
It is important for residents to understand that this poll is a form of sampling. Sampling is a very useful method of assessing public opinion. Other sampling methods commonly used are telephone surveys, exit polls, on-the-street interviews, etc. Sample polling is not entirely inclusive, nor does it yield scientifically accurate results. Polling is also not the same as a public vote on a specific measure. The information gleaned from the five polls will be digested along with information gathered from a number of public hearings, and focus groups, letters, etc., to form the basis of the recommendations for tourism management.
The tourism polling conducted by the city and Egret Communications over the next seven weeks does allow a very large portion of the local populous to participate. Seventeen thousand PIN numbers were mailed out to registered voters. Since it is not practical for the entire population of Juneau to participate in the polling, engaging register voters in the process has great merit.
The city should be commended for taking on the enormous job of gathering information from such a large sampling group. Those who care enough about their community to show up at the polls and exercise their right to vote are logically the best target group for tourism sampling.
Those who don't vote and, therefore, are not actively engaged in making choices for their community have little reason to offended for being left out of the polling. The criteria and time line for the polling was heavily publicized before the city mailed out the PIN numbers on Oct. 26.
Anyone who wasn't registered had plenty of time to register before the polling began. All registered voters have the opportunity to participate, even if they didn't receive a PIN number in the mail. Registered voters who wish to obtain a PIN number should call the Tourism Department at 586-5240.
Anyone (registered voter or not) who wishes to participate in this important planning project is welcomed to attend the public meetings that will take place over the coming months. Interested parties are also encouraged to submit their views in writing to the Tourism Department. Watch the Juneau Empire for upcoming dates or view the Tourism Department's Web site for more information.
The first online poll closes at 7 tomorrow morning so if Juneau holds true to its reputation of being a last-minute community, we should see a flurry of activity as the deadline approaches. Results from the first poll will be made public soon. The second online poll will be activated at 7 a.m. this Saturday.
The future of tourism worldwide has been impacted by the tragic events of Sept. 11. Juneau's economy is strongly linked to the future of its tourism industry. The issues of quality of life, noise, traffic, jobs, the overall health of our local economy and opportunities for future generations weigh in the balance. The online polling takes very little time. Please make your voice heard.
More information about the long-range tourism plan is available at www.juneauempire.com/tourism/ and www.cbjtourism.com.