By Mike Dooley
October 25, 2011
Cruise ships do not have to stop in Ketchikan. Sure, we are a convenient location and a great Destination (for now). But if we don't stay competitive, the ships will go to some place else, be that Prince Rupert, Icy Straights, or Siberia. Don't fool yourselves it's a competitive world out there.
In other Alaskan ports the area near the gangway of the ship have a nice dry booth where the shore excursion staff can do their business. This is provided as part and parcel to the fee they pay for the dock. In competing ports around the world there are fantastic covered facilities for the passengers to use as they come off the ship, again part of the fee the ship pays, or built using head tax monies collected. In Ketchikan I often see the shore excursion staff doing business, in the rain, on top of a flat garbage can cover. Nice. In Ketchikan tour passengers gather for tours (sales tax included in the fee mind you) in the rain and wind. Miserable.
In other ports the ships can sell tour tickets while standing on the dock that they are renting. In Ketchikan they can't sell on the dock, but at the same time (20 feet away) the city has rented space to independent tour operators that are in competition with the cruise lines. To me this is like renting space to McDonalds for $100,000, then renting a tiny space right next door to a small hamburger stand for $100, to specifically prey on the people going to McDonalds. As a matter of fact the owner of the hamburger stand often yells at the tops of his lungs how much cheaper his burgers are compared to McDonalds. Is this legal? Sure. Is it smart? What do you think McDonalds will eventually do? Take a walk down by the gangway as passengers come off the ships and listen to the hawkers. This is a guest's first impression of Ketchikan. Not good marketing of our destination, in my opinion.
The cruise lines and their passengers bring in dock fees, head tax revenues and sales tax on tours and purchase. Love them or hate them, I don't care. The truth is, we, as a community, would be in big trouble without them. Maybe we, city and borough, should take some time and effort to look into the marketing (i.e. selling) of our port to our customers. Business who ignore their repeat customers lose them to the competition. Ketchikan better not rest on its laurels for too long.
The crossing guards should be ambassadors to our visitors. Never rude. Always helpful. I have also seen them be extremely rude to visitors. They should be trained well, and held accountable for their behavior.
About: "21 year resident of Ketchikan."
Received October 21, 2011 - Published October 25, 2011
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