What do Tourists think of
Ketchikan, and how can we improve it?
By Bobbie McCreary
January 17, 2006
I just returned from a week-long business trip to Kansas City
and Minneapolis and with a 2 hour lay-over in Seattle had time
to peruse the Travel Section of the Border's at SeaTac...(thank
goodness that construction is completed and there is something
to do now!)
It seems we are starting to
fall behind in the critics' opinions as a desirable visitor destination.
(Excerpts of some of those comments are attached.) My conclusion
as I read through these comments and then contrasted them to
comments about Sitka, Skagway and Juneau is:
We still have a chance to do
it right! As the extension of Berth 3 is planned and Berth 4
is contemplated, let's work together to create a really great
historic district in NewTown, one that will win kudos from the
critics and smiles from our residents.
And, by the way, contrary to
some interesting rumors that have been racing around town...I
am not,nor have I ever been affiliated with Neighborhood Assemblies
Network. Nor is this organization involved in any way with
the development of the NewTown Historic District Neighborhood
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: Roberta (Bobbie) McCreary
is a resident of Ketchikan's NewTown Neighborhood.
Quotes from Travel Books:
Frommer's Alaska 2006 (by Charles Wohlforth,
p.1 Introduction -The
proliferation of large cruise ships continues to grow
well beyond the carrying capacity of the small-town ports the
ships call on. Towns are now receiving more than 10,000 visitors
in a day from cruise ships. The towns worst affect are Ketchikan,
Juneau and Skagway.
p. 101 Ketchikan: On
- Today the director
hoping to recreate that scene would have his work cut out for
him, removing the T-shirt shops and bright street-front signs
that seek to drawn in throngs of cruise passengers to buy plastic
gewgaws. Not so long ago, Ketchikan was a rugged and exotic intersection
of cultures built on the profits of logging Southeast's rainforest,
but in a decade it has transformed itself into a tourist center,
softening its rough edges while selling their charm to visitors.
On summer days, the white cruise ships tower above the town
like huge new buildings on the dock facing Front Street, the
downtown's main drag. Each morning their gangways disgorge thousands
of visitors, clogging the streets and for a few hours transforming
the town into a teeming carnival. Then evening comes, the streets
empty, and the cruise ships slide off quietly on the way to their
p. 135 Sitka: Rich Prize
of Russian Conquest -
If I could only visit
one Alaska town, it would probably be Sitka Somehow it has retained
a friendly, authentic feel, despite the crush of thousands of
Lonely Planet Alaska (Dufresne, Penland, Root2003)
p. 124 Selling the Southeast - In
the past decade, Ketchikan has undergone a dramatic transformation-one
that could be used as a case study for the challenges many Southeast
Alaska towns face as they try to replace their foundering resource-based
economies with tourism.
Once a quintessential Alaskan
logging and fishing town, Ketchikan was a workaday place where
visitors could wander the docks or jaw with the locals in ramshackle
waterfront bars, soaking up the culture relatively anonymously.
Now Ketchikan is a quintessential Alaska tourist town,
thoroughly enslaved to cruise ships
The ships disgorge their lemming-like
hordes onto docks that are now nothing more than sacrifice areas
full of hungry schlock shops. The locals love the paycheck,
but many long for the good old days when "prostitution"
meant patronizing Dolly Arthur's Creek St. brothel, not selling
authentic Alaskan junk to wealthy outsiders.
It's all very disconcerting,
this unfettered capitalism at its most garish. So while tourism
may be a "clean" alternative to "resource development"
industries, a look at today's Ketchikan might give even the most
die-hard conservationists food for thought.
The Rough Guide to Alaska
p. 79 Ketchikan and Around
- On most summer
days downtown Ketchikan disappears behind a white wall of cruise
ships which feed up to five thousand tourists into the compact
town center, affecting almost every activity you take part in
and quite possibly souring your opinion or this otherwise likeable
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Write a Letter -------Read Letters
E-mail the Editor
Stories In The News