EDITOR, Daily News:

Fifty years in the making, the cruise industry has strengthened each of the 17 seaport destination’s economies and partnered financially with communities for port or upland improvements. Thank you.

It was the unforeseen pandemic that caught us by surprise, as Mother Nature hit with a virus and not an oil spill, earthquake or ship in peril. We had to reinvent ourselves with product and services for independent travelers. Only then did we realize our infrastructure wasn’t fully established. We lost an opportunity for greater numbers in 2020 and hope for a better 2021.

I appeal to Charlie Ball of the Holland America Group, chosen through Holland-America/Princess and Cruise Lines International Association Alaska membership, to acknowledge that diversification is important to small communities and there can be a lucrative economy with independent travelers, which CLIA prides itself in generating 42% first-time cruisers returning to a destination for a self-guided vacation.

Holland-America/Princess could make a statement on the website: “No cruising to Southeast Alaska.” However Holland-America/Princess has prepared some excellent dry cruise packages to the Interior and Juneau-Skagway. Promoting pre or post itineraries into Ketchikan, Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg, Hoonah, Haines, etc. — all airports lead into Anchorage or Seattle.

So focused with time, energy and marketing dollars wooing cruise patrons, we would like leadership in membership organizations to collaborate a 'standard component' on websites that offer suggested itineraries and make it easy to “Pick and Click” transportation, accommodations and charters.

I must commend visitor centers and the chamber of commerce, as each of your websites are comprehensive and easy to navigate. Thank you. Simply designing a unified message in a social media blitz to attract explorers might be all that’s required. You will know best, based on recent conversations, and final approval to move forward as a Southeast consortium.

With Holland-America/Princess stepping forward, sharing information that could increase the independent traveler market share, your loyal customers will remember the kindness and helpfulness during times of recovery and think Holland-America/Princess first when the season reopens in 2022-2023.

Let's all remember the 1947 movie “Miracle on 34th Street” when Kris Kringle suggested Gimbels had the toys that Macy’s was out of. Reciprocating, Gimbels and other stores generated so much positive publicity and goodwill that it was a profitable holiday for everyone.

We need a miracle in 2021 and it starts with the long-standing goodwill of cruise brands (deep in their own debts) to simply recommend an alternative while they rebuild their economy for 2022.

Today is March 25. Only nine months before Christmas.  The happiness and well-being of a community is represented in the happiness and well-being of tourism.

This year, Ketchikan doesn't need wharfage fees — we’ll survive on our reserves. We will, however, take its equivalent in the form of well-placed advertising promoting Southeast Alaska and Alaska's Interior. Again, thank you.

MARY L. STEPHENSON

Ketchikan