The Norwegian Encore sails past Douglas Island on Sept. 8, 2021. The Encore was visiting Juneau as part of an abbreviated cruise season this summer after COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season. The City and Borough of Juneau is currently offering an online survey for residents to share their views on the tourism industry. One of the survey questions addresses the proposal from Norwegian Cruise Lines to build a cruise ship dock on its waterfront property on Egan Drive. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

CBJ surveys residents about tourism

Residents can weigh in until Oct. 15

Residents with opinions about Juneau’s tourism industry can share their views with city leaders via an online survey that’s available until Oct. 15.

The survey is open now at JuneauTourismSurvey.com and will be available until 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15. The short survey takes about 5 minutes to complete.

According to Alexandra Pierce, project manager for the City and Borough of Juneau, 782 people had completed the online survey as of Tuesday evening. Earlier in the process, an additional 500 people completed the survey via telephone.

The survey gauges how residents felt about the 2019 cruise ship season, which was the most recent typical season before COVID-19 paused all travel last summer and significantly shortened this season.

“We want people to think back to 2019 to the last real cruise season that we had,” Pierce said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “We recognize that it’s been a weird couple of years and people might be thinking about the visitor industry as it exists right now. We want people to think about the last full cruise season. This is for future planning.”

Pierce said that the survey includes various questions — some of which are throwbacks to surveys the city did in the 1990s and early ’00s. She said asking the same questions provides a level of continuity that will help provide year-over-year data.

Pierce said that many of the new questions added to the survey would be used in future surveys to provide continuity of information.

“We want to track trends,” Pierce said.

[Words from the Weiss: Catching up with Alaska’s superintendent of the year]

New dock, new question

One of the new survey questions addresses the proposal from Norwegian Cruise Line to build a cruise ship dock on its waterfront property on Egan Drive — a project that the city must approve before construction can move forward. City leaders have discussed the need for additional public input around the process.

“The survey question about the NCL proposal is probably a one-year thing,” Pierce said. “We have probably one of the biggest proposals to develop our waterfront before us and we want to hear public opinion on that. The assembly felt that question was an important first step in understanding public opinion.”

The question reads: “Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased land at the Subport, across from Centennial Hall, to develop a dock for large cruise ships. The dock is currently designed for one side to be used by large cruise ships and the other side by the U.S. Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Service. What is your level of support or opposition to Norwegian Cruise Line constructing a new cruise ship dock at the subport?”

Answer options include: very supportive, supportive, opposed, very opposed or don’t know.

In a May interview with the Empire, Howard Sherman, executive vice president onboard revenue and destination development for NCL, said that dock electrification is considered a priority for the project. Though, NCL would be an interruptible customer if the community demanded more power while a ship was plugged into the grid. Currently, only one dock in Juneau is electrified.

Sherman also said the company is looking forward to additional community engagement.

Sherman said that community input so far had yielded new ideas, including steps down to the waterfront for launching canoes and kayaks. Other ideas have included housing and day care space at the site and street-level green space to cover an underground parking area.

“Juneau has the most vigorous public engagement of any place I’ve been in the world. For example, the Visitor Industry Taskforce received hundreds of comments and made fantastic recommendations. It’s the best I’ve seen anywhere,” Sherman said.

[Covering the water: Execs talk restarting cruises, industry future and ballot initiatives]

About the survey

According to Pierce, the survey idea originated with the Visitor Industry Task Force established by Mayor Beth Weldon.

“On the task force, we talked a lot about surveys from the ‘90s and we are still sometimes using data from those,” she said.

After a competitive bidding process, CBJ contracted with McKinley Research Group (formerly McDowell Group) to conduct the survey. During the budget process, the assembly allocated money for the survey.

The survey has two components—an online survey that’s open to anyone interested — and a phone component, which is now complete.

[City turns to tourism management ahead of short cruise season]

Pierce said the phone portion of the survey included calls to 500 people, using a combination of cell numbers and landlines.

She said that calling 500 people is the “sweet spot” for statistical significance when conducting surveys in Juneau.

According to news release from city officials, residents who participated in the phone survey don’t need to participate in the online survey as their data is recorded.

Pierce said results would be available later this year.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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