Last Dance

Sitka Fine Arts Camp elementary age campers dance with instructor Brendan Jones in their final day of camp today at the Sheldon Jackson College Campus. Middle School Camp, for grades seven thru nine, begins Monday. Registration is still open at 907-747-3085. (Sentinel Photo by Klas Stolpe)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

New Tourism Task Force on Assembly Agenda


Sentinel Staff Writer

The Assembly will consider a resolution Tuesday to establish a broad-based Tourism Task Force to take on such issues as “levels of tourism” and city funding for tourism.

The resolution is one of four on the agenda for the regular meeting which starts at 6 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

If it passes, the Assembly would take applications for the task force, and appoint nine members. Under current plans, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Port and Harbors Commission and the Sustainability Commission would recommend one member each. Other members would represent the downtown business corridor, tours and attractions, business, Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, and at-large (two members).

Also on the commission would be ex-officio members from the Assembly, Visit Sitka, and other city staff.

Their tasks include levels of tourism, review of city tourism operations and funding; helping develop a Tourism Management Best Practices program; land use regulations and waterfront development policies; and regional visitor strategies.

Assembly members Chris Ystad and JJ Carlson proposed the task force to address the significant growth of cruise ship tourism in the past two years. This year, the number of passengers off large cruise vessels is expected to climb to 540,000 at full capacity. That’s up from 380,000 who traveled to Sitka in 2022 on large vessels.

Chris McGraw, manager and owner of the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, said today the reports from cruise companies are that cruises to Alaska are selling well and vessels are expected to be 80 to 90 percent full this summer, on average.

“Those in the industry are going to be busy – but it’s going to be good; I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

The other resolutions are related to grant applications to improve the safety of pedestrians crossing Sawmill Creek Road to the Alaska Raptor Center; and across Harbor Drive near Centennial Hall. Both crossing locations are state highways. The city is requesting the projects and would be responsible for the maintenance of the improvements, Public and Government Relations Director Melissa Henshaw said.

If the resolutions pass, the city will apply for the funding through the state for design and construction of the new crosswalks or similar safety features. At the last Assembly meeting, members approved a 5 percent match to increase Sitka’s competitiveness for the grants. The match would come from revenues from the commercial passenger vessel excise tax.

Two agenda items are for a discussion on updating the port tariff fee schedule for the Gary Paxton Industrial Park dock, and for the port wall at the Marine Service Center.

Garry White, director of GPIP, said the park board is proposing to update its tariff schedule that is consistent with what private docks are charging. The multipurpose dock can accommodate cruise ships of up to 400 feet. Last year, seven ships called at the GPIP dock, and that number will more than double this year, White said.

Moorage charges are $3,000 a day, and $5 per person per day, plus other charges for using services such as security. White said the modest increases from last year’s fees reflect the increased cost of doing business at the park. 

“GPIP and Harbors are trying to mirror each other’s rates so we’re not pulling customers one way or another,” White said.

A related issue is a resolution to adjust the dockage fees and passenger wharfage fees for the port wall at the Marine Service Center on Katlian Street, with charges similar to private enterprise and the GPIP dock.

“The Port Wall has accommodated many cruise ships over the years, ranging from 145 feet to 267 feet, the staff memo from Harbor Master Stan Eliason says. “The ships call upon Sitka 15 to 20 times during the summer months.” 

The flat rate for the port wall is lower, at $2,250 per day, based on the lower maximum length of the dock, at 300 feet. The estimated income from the dock is expected to be $20,250 for the season, plus $6,095 in passenger wharfage fees, for a total of $26,345, the staff memo says.



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June 2004 

Advertisement: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Caring Employee of the month! Franklin Thomas Hospital Nutrition Services.


June 1974

Edna Revard is enjoying a much-deserved vacation: she and youngest son Joe are in Italy visiting her older son, Jack, his wife and child. Jack is with the military, stationed in Italy. Edna will be gone a month, the crew at Revard’s Restaurant says.


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