Here are my thoughts. I live in Auke Bay and work downtown. I belong to a local church, and volunteer for non-profits. I am your neighbor, your friend. I will work with you to take care of our community, to help others, and to be kind to one another. I am a local, and like you, my quality of life is important. The threat of bankruptcy and unemployment are not the quality of life we deserve.
In 2019, I fed thousands of guests on my food tours. In 2020, I fed 24. The lost opportunity to host cruise passengers was and will continue to be devastating. I cannot stay in business with independent travelers. There just aren’t enough of them.
Our views and opinions are important. They create dialogue and conversations that often need to be had. And you know what “they” say about opinions. Everyone has one.
I’d like to start with some facts. In recent weeks, residents of Juneau have been bombarded with negative opinions on the cruise line industry. Three brazen initiatives are being touted as the saving graces of Juneau and that if we love our community, we should sign the petition to add these to the ballot. I will not sign these petitions and the reason why is based on facts, not opinions.
It has been three weeks and we haven’t heard so much as an estimate on how these bans would affect our community from the group that introduced them. If you introduce an initiative, let alone three, there should be facts associated with them. When we, in the industry, found out about the severity of these initiatives, we were shell shocked. During an unprecedented time of struggle, they schemed to find a way to kick us when we were down so that they didn’t have a tour bus drive by their house, or a helicopter fly overhead?
Here are the opinion vs. the facts:
— The opinion is that should we have no ships on Saturdays, locals will have their downtown back to enjoy shopping, dining, etc. The fact is most downtown businesses, even those open year-round, earn their annual operating revenue during the summer months. Based on the 2022 calendar, banning ships on Saturdays could be a revenue loss by up to $20 million and a loss of $1 million in tax revenues for the city. It is highly unlikely locals can make up a $20 million loss.
— The opinion is that no ships after 7 p.m. will allow locals to enjoy the downtown restaurants and bars in the evenings. The fact is that more than one-third of the ship arrivals would be canceled because the port call would be too short. Likewise, ships arriving in the morning will need to start boarding by 4:30 p.m. to ensure they are gone by 7 p.m. Based on the 2022 calendar, there is an estimated loss of 60% passengers arriving, equating to 900,000 passengers spending an estimated $187 per person for a total of $168.3 million dollars of loss revenue to our city and $8.4 million in sales tax. Regardless of whether you’re a T-shirt company, a retailer, bar or restaurant, the loss would be devastating.
— The opinion is that the larger “mega” ships will bring so many people that Juneau will be overrun by 3 million people. The fact? This is logistically impossible. There are 35 ships of varying sizes deployed to Alaska every summer. Only five hold 4,000 plus passengers. These five ships would have to be in Juneau every day for 150 days to equate 3 million. In 2022 there are only 70 days at which we are at full capacity.
This initiative will cause an estimated 75% decrease in passengers arriving to the loss of 1,125,000 visitors. With an average spending of $187 per person for a total of $210 million and $10.5 million in lost sales tax. Those are the facts and they are sobering.
Let us recognize that this small group of “activists” have been shouting their opinions with no supporting economic facts. I respectfully ask that before you sign any petition, you ask for the facts that support their positions — not fear-mongering opinions, but statistical data that proves these initiatives are what’s best for Juneau. And then, don’t sign.
• Midgi Moore is CEO of Juneau Food Tours. Moore resides in Juneau.