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Adjusting for the cruise ship industry will be a never-ending endeavor for Ketchikan.
With both the City of Ketchikan and Ward Cove Dock Group preparing for building and expanding dock space, accommodating cruise lines is the mode of the day — as it should be.
The First City needs industry and particularly tourism, especially as it relates to cruising. Cruising is on an upward trajectory here and throughout the state. Alaska has much a tourist would like to visit. The wildlife and the history being the most popular attractions.
As deals are made with or for the industry, however, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. An article about the effects of the large cruise ships in Venice, Italy, reinforces that point.
It’s something for all in Ketchikan to keep in mind — not to discourage the industry, but in order to work well with it while preserving the desired visitor experience.
At some point, the crowds brought by bigger and bigger ships will dishearten cruise visitors and others. They aren’t coming to see more tourists; they are coming to see Ketchikan in its truest form.
In Venice, for example, the city is starting to reroute cruise ships away from the historic center. Venicians begrudge the loss of the city’s skyline to the floating hotels. About a third of the ships, including the bigger ones, are to be redirected to terminals outside the city after about 15 years of citizens enduring the situation.
Daily from April to October an estimated 32,000 cruise ship passengers disembark in Venice. This doesn’t include the millions of tourists who enter the city by other means.
Come September the Italian city also will begin charging cruise ship passengers an entrance fee. It’s similar to the sales tax a visitor pays at a hotel. The fee is expected to offset the cost of infrastructure created by the industry’s impact.
Venice likely isn’t the only example of long-time cruise ship ports balancing the benefits with the drawbacks of the industry to a town.
Ketchikan can learn from these.
The industry is here to stay. Adjustments will come with it for years to come.