One of the key ingredients for responsible tourism is destination stewardship. CLIA and its member lines partner with city authorities, ports, and other organizations on sustainable tourism initiatives to help preserve the integrity, cultural heritage and beauty of the world’s most treasured destinations. We share a common vision to capture the social and economic benefits of tourism for residents while safeguarding the long-term sustainability of the cruise destination for future generations.
In Alaska, much of our effort has focused on Southeast, particularly the communities of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.
Perhaps the most successful effort has been creation of the Tourism Best Management Practices (TBMP) program which began in Juneau in 1997. TBMP is a cooperative effort among residents, tour operators, cruise lines, transportation providers, tour brokers, hospitality businesses, merchants, restaurants and government entities. The program establishes neighborhood-specific guidelines to address key community concerns in a constructive and pro-active manner.
The program has since expanded to Ketchikan, Skagway, Wrangell and Haines. Versions of TBSP are in place between outfitters, guides and the Tongass National Forest and in Tracy Arm, Holkham Bay, Endicott Arm and Ford’s Terror.
Tourism task force
Working cooperatively has been the key to success in many communities.
Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon established the Visitor Industry Task Force in 2019 with a charging document that tasked the group with addressing four major issues:
- Tourism industry management
- Revisiting the 2004 Long Range Waterfront Plan
- The concept of a “cap” on the number of visitors
- The necessity of additional public process in the form of surveys
The group held a number of public meetings between October of 2019 and February of 2020 and took public testimony in 2022 where it received 43 spoken comments and 156 written comments. The testimony reflected a diverse range of viewpoints in the community and generally provided nuanced views of the benefits and impacts of tourism.
The VITF developed 45 recommendations to be completed over the next three years.
One of the outgrowths of the plan was creation of a tourism manager position, which was established in 2021. The director is responsible for tourism planning, management, industry relations,and internal tourism coordination. Duties include collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, recommending policy decisions to the City Manager and Assembly to proactively advance the community’s goals on tourism and public outreach.
The Ketchikan Tourism Strategy plan is a 92-page document adopted in 2023 that lays out goals for the next five years. It prioritizes managing the flow of visitors and traffic congestion, addressing housing and labor shortages, marketing Ketchikan as a year-round destination and monitoring how tourism affects the town overall. More than 1,000 local stakeholders representing the wider community, public sector (all local jurisdictions), private sector and civic sector helped to shape the plan.. The year-long participatory planning process was spearheaded by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough (KGB) and guided by a 23-member Community Advisory Committee and eight-member Steering Committee.
Ketchikan also added a tourism manager.
In Sitka, a broad-based Tourism Task Force met throughout 2023 to help facilitate Sitka’s transition to long-term tourism management. The Task Force was given five main directives to explore and make recommendations on: 1. Levels of tourism in Sitka, 2. Annual review cycle of CBS operations and tourism funding, 3. Assisting in the development of a Tourism Management Best Practices (TMBP) program, 4. Land use regulations and waterfront development policies, 5. Regional strategies to advance Sitka’s interest regarding cruise tourism. The Tourism Task Force must make final recommendations to the Assembly no later than April 30, 2024.
In addition, the owner of the private cruise dock is working the cruise companies and the organization that schedules ships to ease the congestion and spread the visitors out by developing new venues and tours.
The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) and cruise lines signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 2022 in a groundbreaking effort to help manage visitor industry impacts in the Capital City. This pioneering collaboration points a way forward for communities and cruise lines to work together to support local businesses, strengthen the visitor experience and protect quality of life in the community.
The agreement, developed in partnership between CBJ and CLIA member companies was based on the recommendations established by the Visitor Industry Task Force in 2020 and solidifies the cooperative working relationship among the parties. The centerpiece was a five-ship limit per day.
“CLIA member lines have made tremendous advancements in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship across the globe and remain committed to being good partners with the communities we visit in Alaska. This MOA is a demonstration of that and will continue to strengthen the relationship between the community and the cruise industry,” said Renée Limoge Reeve, Vice President of Government and Community Relations at CLIA.
The commitments in the MOA include immediate actions such as eliminating disposal of large, bulky waste and minimizing all types of waste in Juneau’s landfill, turning off large screens in port and when visible to neighborhoods, limiting drinking water use in times of drought and maximizing partnerships with local businesses. The MOA also includes pledges to work together on longer-term goals like strategic docking of ships to minimize congestion, changes to the way ships are scheduled and industry support for projects important to CBJ such as the Centennial Hall expansion and constructing shore power at City-owned docks.
Establishing a Pacific Northwest to Alaska ‘Green Corridor’
On May 17, 2022, the City and Borough of Juneau, Port of Seattle, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean Group, Cruise Lines International Association, the Global Maritime Forum, Blue Sky Maritime Coalition and Washington Maritime Blue launched a collaborative effort to explore the feasibility of a maritime green corridor aimed at accelerating the deployment of zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission ships and operations between Alaska, British Columbia and Washington. The communities of Sitka, Skagway and Haines and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority have also joined the partnership. https://www.portseattle.org/projects/exploring-green-corridor-cruise-pacific-northwest-alaska
A green corridor is a shipping route where zero greenhouse gas solutions are considered, demonstrated and supported. Green corridors — through collaboration across sectors — establish the technological, economic and regulatory feasibility needed to accelerate implementation of low and ultimately zero GHG emission vessels.
Green corridors are a new concept and globally, there is not yet a shared understanding of what it means for a maritime corridor to be “green” nor are there well-documented, or one-size-fits-all, solutions to achieve a green corridor.
For the Alaska corridor, project partners commit to:
- Working together to explore the feasibility of a green corridor in the Pacific Northwest of North America, including, but not limited to, further defining the scope and application of the green corridor concept;
- Enhancing and supporting the emission-reduction efforts already underway and using the green corridor as a testbed for low and zero greenhouse gas technologies and ships, as feasible; and
- Working collaboratively to define the governance structures, terms, and frameworks needed to guide this regional effort.