Opinion: Juneau needs tourism ombudsman; generous sales team makes difference; more on costs of cruise ship tourism

Sunday Letters to the Editor.

Tourism ombudsman badly needed in Juneau

I thank Dr. Jim Powell and want to associate myself with his Jan. 3 column, “At the tipping point: How do we stop cruise ship tourism from going overboard?” I am deeply concerned about the tourism industry impact on our community; and failure to realize we are beyond sustainable limits of cruise ship visitors.

The one additional point I would add to Powell’s observations and recommendations is, Juneau is already overboard. Juneau needs and deserves to have an tourism ombudsman, who would represent the interest of Juneau citizens in seeking and maintaining a social, cultural, environmental and economical sustainable tourism industry. The emphasis here is on bringing us back to seek and maintain a balance; not simply continue pushing for higher head counts. Without this, my fear is very little will happen; and we will have another discussion and committee in two years as we move to a devastating 1.5 million visitors and go deeper underwater.

Jim Ayers,

Juneau

Juneau sales team’s generosity has lasting impact

On July, 18 2019, we were in Juneau from a Celebrity cruise ship. My wife became quite attached to the bald eagle, so I decided to buy her a pendant featuring one. We found one at Caribou Crossings in Franklin Street and went to pay for it along with a silver chain. We did not realize just how precious and expensive it was and had to cancel the sale.

My wife, Iolee, returned to the ship to rest, and I continued to tour the town. She was suffering from Lymphoma and needed a rest, but my heart felt for her so I decided to buy just the pendant any way.

Upon returning to the shop, I explained the reason for my purchase and the two sales people were so concerned that they shed a few tears and included the chain at no cost.

Iolee was very touched by their action and accepted the pendant with great gratitude and valued it highly. Unfortunately, she never wore it as the cancer became a real problem once we returned to Australia, but she treasured it.

She passed away Jan. 8, and now it becomes a special memory to me. We were so touched by the understanding of the two sales people and now that she has gone, the whole incident has a very special meaning to me.

Sinclair Mann,

Australia

Correction to my earlier letter about cruise ships tourism

I must apologize to readers for my statement in my “The costs of cruise ships tourism” My Turn printed on Jan. 1. I wrote that excursions sold on the ships do not pay one penny of sales tax to the City and Borough of Juneau. This must have seemed very unfair to those businesses engaged in selling excursions to the ships and some people have been kind enough to set me straight. The businesses selling the excursion to the ship pay the full 5% CBJ sales tax on what is termed “the wholesale fare.” The ships then raise the price dramatically and sell it to passengers. What is not paid at all is sales tax on the portion of the cruise ship “mark up” or “commission.” This is thought to be a considerable amount of mark up, but no one can tell me how much it is as it must vary.

I believe however, you all understand my main point remains that the costs are high to our community, we need to assess those cost which are usually difficult to put a number on, and in the case of my example on flight seeing noise, whatever the economic benefit is thought to be, the cost is tremendous due to never getting a break from the noise.

Brian Flory,

Juneau

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