SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Let's get behind the aquarium
By Larry Jackson


April 28, 2010
Wednesday PM

This letter is in response to the efforts of many in the tourist industry to thwart the aquarium's efforts to raise federal grant money.  Although I appreciate their concerns of public money being used in a quasi competitive endeavor I think their efforts are bit shortsighted. 

First off instead of shooting down the efforts for the aquarium to offer tours via the pre sold cruise route why not suggest to the aquarium that they put out a competitive bid proposal so that private companies could vendor the tour for the aquarium.  Currently at Totem Bight the state takes $5 for every tourist that is brought in on a private or pre sold cruise tour.  Of course no one is complaining that Princess/Carnival and the likes take thousands of folks to a state park bi-passing all of the local tour companies. 

Also the aquarium will provide year round jobs, research and help build a mariculture industry which some day could be as $50 million dollar regional industry.  Instead of putting down the aquarium let's put on our creative business thinking caps and come up with spin off businesses that will work with the aquarium.  I'll even help you out a bit. Imagine manufacturing mariculture equipment, building boats for the mariculture industry, processing oysters or other shellfish, providing tours year round to visiting scientists who come to work or study at the aquarium, imagine providing the actual critters that inhabit the aquarium, or the food they eat. Call me if you need more ideas.  

The anti aquarium movement/petition is indicative of Ketchikan''s polarizing approach to community problems.  There is another way.   I do however have an additional challenge for the petition signers.  Perhaps you could examine why we are getting state capital money to rebuild berth 1 &2 and why we will have to borrow the remaining to pay for this public infrastructure that benefits all of the petition signers?  If you hadn't notice Carnival Cruises profited 1.2 billion in the 4th quarter of 2009 and lobbied to reduce the head tax while we now have to borrow money and use state dollars to rebuild the docks they tie the ships to. 

Do you really think the aquarium is a problem for the community? I see it as an incredible opportunity to diversify our economy, enhance tourism and differentiate our town amongst in the state ? 

Let's get behind this aquarium.


Larry Jackson
Owner of Tongass Tours
and Tongass Forest Enterprises
Ketchikan, AK


Received April 27, 2010 - Published April 28, 2010


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