The City and Borough of Juneau and Cruise Lines International Association members are heading into uncharted waters.
The city recently signed a memorandum of agreement with member companies of CLIA to come to an agreement on a number of tourism management issues in Juneau — which is the first of any port city in Alaska to do so.
“This is a new approach,” said Alexandra Pierce, CBJ tourism manager. “I’m not aware of another cruise port that is addressing their community issue through memorandums of agreement.”
Signed by city officials and cruise line executives, the MOA outlines an agreement to pursue goals such as minimizing the amount of waste cruise lines send to the CBJ landfill, emphasizing cruise lines’ partnerships with locally owned businesses, being more communicative about scheduling and cruise line support for CBJ’s grant application for dock electrification funds.
“These are management issues we’ve been working on for a long time — some of them are already happening — but, it’s solidifying those things and adding additional agreements to continue to work on some of our challenging issues,” she said.
Pierce said there are many things within the agreement that will have direct positive effects on Juneau residents such as the reduction of cruise line waste going into the CBJ landfill, and the reduction of large format video screens on the cruise lines which Pierce said shine directly onto certain neighborhoods.
“The point of this is to not be a regulation — it’s not supposed to be something that we are constantly chasing them and trying to enforce, it’s something that both parties have agreed to and are working together to achieve these common goals,” Pierce said. “Each one of these things represents a step toward proactive management for this industry and that is something we have not done in the past.”
Pierce said the agreement has been in the works for quite some time since work toward it started in 2019 when the Visitor Industry Task Force was established by the city. The task force, made up of Assembly members and Juneau residents, was created by Mayor Beth Weldon with a mission to create a set of recommendations on tourism management in Juneau and guide Assembly policy on the topic.
Pierce said the agreement follows a lot of the recommendations outlined by the task force and it covers the “grab bag” of issues — meaning it hits on a number of issues the task force underlined as important.
“I think the big reason why people should care about this is that what we’re doing it with negotiating memorandums of agreement instead of trying to create a regulator framework is a really good start to create a successful dialog for meeting our community goals,” she said.
Pierce said this is the first of the possibility of more MOA to come, though she said the future is still being discussed and nothing has been made certain.
Carole Triem, an Assembly member and chair of the VITF in 2020, said she is happy to see the task force’s recommendation get adopted by the MOA, and said it’s “a great start” to opening up future communication between cruise lines and the city.
“I think we will get more immediate results if we try to work with CLIA and the industry, rather than try to make all these regulations and hammer them that way,” Triem said. “I think it’s going to be ultimately more productive — this is part of that.”
Renée Limoge Reeve, vice president of government and community relations for CLIA, said the agreement is an important milestone for Juneau as it “shows a spirit of cooperation” between the city and the cruise lines.
She said CLIA and the city have a “very good relationship” which has evolved over the years with the help of the VITF to allow for a more open dialog on what tourism management practices the community would like to see in Juneau.
“It’s important for us to be welcomed in the communities that we visit and part of being welcomed is being a good partner, so I think this is a really unique opportunity to demonstrate that,” she said. “We know that we make impacts on the communities that we visit, so we try to see how can we do a better job of mitigating things that the community takes issue.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.