A city survey on Juneau tourism issues wraps Friday. Then what?

A passenger stands on the dock in Juneau near the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship on May 19, 2019. (Photo by Ryan Cunningham/KTOO)

Public opinion surveys on tourism in Juneau are wrapping up Friday and the results are likely to influence how local policymakers try to manage the visitor industry — big cruise ships especially.

Alex Pierce with the Juneau’s Community Development Department is working on the city’s Visitor Industry Task Force recommendations. This survey was one of them. She said the city used to do similar surveys more frequently in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“Recognizing that that data was really helpful for us, we resurrected the survey with the intent of some of the questions remaining the same so that we could compare data year over year,” she said.

Some of the holdover questions from older surveys are about people’s opinion on the industry’s impact on them. Overall, and in terms of crowding, vehicle congestion and noise.

The survey also asks fresh questions about hot-button cruise ship topics: possible limits on cruise ship traffic, Norwegian Cruise Line’s plan to develop a fifth large cruise ship berth. And, a possible ban on “hot-berthing” at the two big floating docks the city owns. Hot-berthing is when more than one ship uses a berth in a single day.

Pierce said the city paid McKinley Research about $34,000 to conduct the survey. Results should be released next month.

City officials could use survey results to back up decisions on Norwegian’s plan for a new dock. One leverage point has to do with an existing, long-term land-use plan that may not allow for Norwegian’s new dock. Pierce said after the survey results are out, city staff will draft changes to that plan for elected officials to consider.

Pierce said she’s also looking forward to the city manager’s office filling a new tourism manager position. The job posting went live recently and closes on Oct. 29.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t been as proactive as we could or probably should have been for the last decade and a half or so,” Pierce said. “So creating this position is really an effort to be more proactive and engaged in tourism management issues.”

The person is also expected to run with other visitor industry task force recommendations. Like taking a more active role in scheduling ship visits at city-owned docks, creating new rules for tour permits on city streets and sidewalks, and encouraging tour operators to stick to standards for environmental stewardship, sustainability and community impacts.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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