After a long dry spell, Ketchikan will be taking the rain that Juneau doesn’t want.
When we say “rain,” we’re referring to cruise ships because when they come they rain economic benefits on Ketchikan, and the First City feels the comfort that a downpour can give in particular circumstances.
Ketchikan appreciates rain and cruise ships; public and private enterprise here is outstanding in accommodating the ships’ passengers.
In recents years:
• Stedman, Mill and Front streets — the main downtown thoroughfare — has been reconfigured and expanded to accommodate passenger crowds and locals alike, improving the presentation of businesses and the community as a whole.
• Cruise ship docking options have been expanded into Ward Cove, providing more opportunity to tie ships both eight miles north and at the Port of Ketchikan. This opens wide the door for tourists as they spread out across the community
• Independent tour operators keep coming up with new ideas that take tourists from the far south end of the island, into the center and onto the north, as well. Plus, some tours operate completely off island.
And after 2020 with no cruise ships and the potential loss of them again in 2021, Ketchikan will be ready for them when they get here.
Meanwhile, the capital city, while also experiencing none of the traditional cruise ship season in 2020, has an effort underway to limit the industry.
The Juneau group, Global Cruise Activist Network, is proposing ballot measures that would ban large cruise ships on Saturdays and limit the size of ships allowed to call there. They also wouldn’t allow ships between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The network of individuals would have to file paperwork and collect almost 3,000 signatures of registered Juneau voters for its measure to be eligible for the Oct. 5 municipal election.
While the group opposes a “return to business-as-usual” in Juneau, most people in Ketchikan welcome the cruise ships and the industry.
Ketchikan also favors the efforts by state and local officials to attract independent tourists to the First City this summer, a practice that might enhance the activity when the ships return here.
The Juneau effort isn’t well thought out. Juneau is sustaining economic losses, like most Alaska communities. When an industry is looking to return and bring a wealth of financial benefits with it, is no time to pull the welcome mat. It would be more prudent to assist the industry in its reappearance now and then figure out ways to accommodate the riches realized from its presence, similarly to what has been transpiring in Ketchikan in recent years.
The industry wants Alaska. Alaska needs industry. We can figure out how to work together and preserve the wonderful quality of life here.