Alexandra Pierce’s first job experience came on Juneau’s docks, where she helped visitors onto buses as a dock representative for local tourism operations. In her new post, as the City and Borough of Juneau’s tourism manager, she will help chart a path forward for the industry, which is projected to bring millions of people — and dollars — to the capital city in the coming years.
The role, which is newly created, was a recommendation from the Visitor Industry Task Force, formed by Mayor Beth Weldon.
In July, members of the city Assembly agreed to move forward with the process of seeking a full-time tourism manager, and Pierce was appointed late last month.
Pierce, who is currently the planning manager for CBJ’s Community Development Department, officially steps into the role later this month. According to city officials, she will be paid $120,182.40 a year for her work.
In the last few years, Pierce has touched on aspects of tourism management through her work with CBJ. She served as staff to the Visitor Industry Task Force and managed the tourism-focused survey the city executed this summer. The results of which were shared with the City Assembly earlier this week.
“As the role was developing, I realized I was interested in it,” she told the Empire in an interview Monday. “My background is in long-term planning and I had moved away from that a little bit.”
She said she is excited to focus on new projects and use the experience she’s gained along the way as she tackles the new job.
“I’m really excited about this role. In our master plan, we talked about moving from reactive to proactive. If I have an overarching goal, that’s it,” she said.
Pierce said that working through the Visitor Industry Task Force recommendations is at the top of her to-do list.
“The Assembly has decision points for issues upcoming now through July. That work will be a big part of my role,” she said.
Pierce said her work will include looking at marine passenger fee projects, capital improvement plans and helping to facilitate discussions around Norwegian Cruise Line’s plans to develop a dock at its waterfront property on Egan Drive.
Pierce said her work to date has led to relationships throughout the community, including those with people linked to tourism, economic development, and business organizations, and those relationships will be important going forward.
“I see this role as the public-facing piece of tourism management in Juneau and that means a good public process that involves input from all perspectives,” she said. “When we did the Visitor Industry Task Force and other public processes, we heard from the people who feel very strongly affected and those who use it as a livelihood and all those perspectives are valid and matter. I’m happy to talk with and hear the perspectives and will continue to develop those relationships.”
Pierce grew up in Juneau and had her first work experiences on Juneau’s docks. She also worked in a local gift shop before heading off to college at the University of British Columbia. She then earned an MBA from Norwich University in Vermont.
After a career that included consulting work in the tourism and parks and recreation space and working with the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, she returned to Juneau in 2016 to write a master plan for the city’s parks and recreation department.
Pierce said her work with the Olympic games was instructive on many levels. In that role, her team identified properties that could be used for the games and worked with property owners to secure use. Part of the negotiations often included making improvements before returning the property.
“It taught me a lot about community engagement and meeting diverging viewpoints and negotiations and how local governments can adapt and interface with outside large events,” she said.