Tourism enjoys banner year

    Kirby Day (left) and Liz Perry on a recent visit to the Juneau Radio Center.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Kirby Day, Director of Shore Operations for Princess Cruises and Liz Perry of Travel Juneau gave a presentation on the 2019 tourism industry to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

    Tourism capacity has been an issue as the number of tourists increases.  Day said they are not afraid of talking about numbers.

    "It is time again to look at the growth we've experienced.  We want to keep Juneau an excellent place to visit and an excellent place to live."

    He said they have made significant improvements to congestion, flight seeing noise and other tourism impacts.

    The number of complaints to the tourism hotline is down in the past 20 years.  In 2000 there were 248 calls to the hotline.  In 2019 there has been 73 calls at the end of July.  There has been a slight increase in 2019 when compared to 2018.

    "We understand that people are watching, we know that we are under a microscope," Perry said. 

    Perry said it is quieter on the waterfront thanks to a change in airplane engines operated by Wings Airways.  "We occasionally get a call about float plane noise.  It is nothing like it used to be."

    Day said tourism best management practices has been very successful.  He anticipated over 2,500 jobs were created this year and predicted over $250 million will be spent by tourists in Juneau this summer.

    Day said they will continue to work on problems and solutions.  He also said a lot of year round jobs have been created due to the impact in tourism.

    He said the city has been a great partner in the regulation of the tourism industry.  He also praised the tourism operators for their commitment to lessen the impacts.

    Day said the construction on Egan Drive has been well managed and there have been very few impacts on Juneau's visitor industry.

    "There are still a lot of things to work on.  There has been some busy days but as a whole when you look at all the operations, it works, I think we manage it to the best of our ability," Day added.

    The industry predicted an additional 170,000 visitors this year.  They predicted over 1.6 million visitors this year.

    Perry said she encouraged the public to phone the hotline so they can understand the problem and work to solve them.

    The annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet has been scheduled for October 26 at Centennial Hall.

    Perry said one project they want to undertake is a visitor pledge to the community they are visiting.  She noted the pledge has become popular in Skandinavian countries.

    Day said there has been a 12 percent increase in cruise ship passengers this year as of the end of July.  He predicted a four to five percent increase in 2020.  He did not see an expansion of the schedule for cruise ships from the end of April to the start of October.

    Perry said there have not been many complaints about cruise ship emissions in six to eight weeks.  She said they had more complaints about smoke from wild fires earlier this summer.

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