Juneau's tourism future may require managing cruise and destination travel and building a second port, according to the people working on the city's long-range tourism plan.
Planners presented five tourism scenarios at a meeting Wednesday and provided information about a series of city-sponsored Internet polls. A scenario that calls on the city to manage for cruise and destination travel success holds the most promise, team leader Bob Harvey of Egret Communications said.
Success would be on Juneau's terms and take social, economic and environmental issues into account, he said. And "managing tourism" doesn't necessarily mean increasing or decreasing the number of visitors, he said.
"Success is not numbers, but the type and kind of tourism suited to the community," he said.
Planners are suggesting that a second port for cruise ships is needed under the scenario, but haven't picked a site. The spot would be a base for flightseeing, tours, transportation and retail shopping, Harvey said. A second port would ease congestion downtown and provide room for more destination travelers, he said.
"This takes a lot of people not used to working together, working together," Harvey said.
Destination travel includes independent, group and packaged travel, according to planners. Destination travelers often stay multiple days and spend more than cruise ship visitors, they said.
Cruise tourism is going to grow no matter what Juneau does, and a scenario that would freeze cruise growth and encourage destination travel could backfire, Harvey said. Cruise lines would invest in another port and the controversy would scare off destination travelers and businesses, he said.
Even a status quo scenario wouldn't be the status quo, he added. Community conflict would escalate. Visitor volume, revenue, control and Juneau's image would suffer, he said.
"The path you're on right now is not going to a good place," he said.
A scenario that would emphasize destination travel could lead to problems because reactively responding to cruise travel could hurt other tourism sectors, Harvey said. And managing cruise travel by itself doesn't appear to be feasible, he said.
"I don't see (a community) coalition coming together to push this scenario forward," he said.
About 50 people attended the meeting at Centennial Hall. Mike Windred, who works for Alaska Travel Adventures, participated in the first round of Web polling.
"My view is that there are some positive and successful solutions, but everybody is going to have to take a look at them with an open mind," he said.
Windred said he'd like to see the scenario that calls for cruise and destination travel success fleshed out.
"From a business standpoint, being stagnant is basically going backward," he said. "Likewise, quality of life is very important."
Sally Willson, who participated in the third Web poll, said the Internet is a good way to get responses from people who care enough to respond. She would have liked to see a more balanced approach to the five scenarios, she said.
"I would have preferred they present all five (scenarios) with pros and cons of each one and let the citizens or the responders make their own decision as to what scenario they want to choose," she said.
Harvey said it will be up to Juneau to chose a vision and move forward.
Kim Titus, who participated in all three polls, said he was pleased the city was trying to get input from the community. But the questions should have included a broader spectrum of possible responses, he said.
"Public participation is pretty hard to come by in a community like Juneau. We're 'meeting-ed' to death in this town," he said. "I just think the questions need to be more clearly written."
The fourth and fifth polls, planned for January, will have shorter questions, Harvey said. Planned changes also should help reduce technical problems accessing the Internet poll, he said.
The planning team plans to post a 32-page report with more detail about the tourism scenarios next week on www.cbjtourism.com.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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