After 20 years of owning a business in downtown Juneau, I closed the door in 2013.
Fortunately, the closure was my decision, not one that was forced upon me through no fault of my own. But now, many local business owners, after enduring unprecedented economic hardship due to the pandemic and facing the prospect of another lackluster visitor season, are thinking about what they must do.
The Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Travel Juneau and the cruise lines, large and small, have their plans and strategies. Earlier this month, the CBJ Assembly asked the city manager to devise an implementation plan for them to use when deciding which Visitors Industry Task Force Recommendations to adopt.
I believe that now is the perfect time for us as citizens to voice our opinions; in essence, to rethink the impacts from the huge cruise ships before the industry restarts business as usual.
Let’s rethink: First, about reducing the number of ships and passengers coming to town each season; second, about actively monitoring our air and water quality; third, about changing the domination of tourism by the foreign-flagged vessel owners; fourth, about minimizing the impacts of local users of Auke Bay by unrestricted whale watching tours; fifth, about the wisdom of supporting expensive new infrastructure projects to accommodate unsustainable growth; and sixth, about encouraging more independent travelers to visit our community.
I do not have all the answers, and I do know that Juneau residents can be agents of change. Consider writing to the Assembly Members about your ideas how to rethink cruise tourism before it restarts. Ask others to do the same, and share with everyone.
• Pat White is a resident of the Thane neighborhood.