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

Sitka Tourism Task Force Gets to Work

By SHANNON HAUGLAND

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka Tourism Task Force at its first work session Wednesday began collecting information needed to tackle directives from the Assembly.

The two-hour meeting was held in the conference room at the fire hall.

“I felt it went pretty well,” Chairman Phyllis Hackett said today. “I was happy with the enthusiasm and participation from everyone, and that they pulled together as a team. ... That’s what we need, we need to realize we’re all in this together.”

The Assembly passed a resolution in March to establish the task force for longer term tourism planning related to the record numbers of cruise ship visitors. Estimates are for 540,000 this summer, a jump from 380,000 last year.

The city already has a short-term tourism plan, which closes downtown Lincoln Street to vehicles when ships with a capacity of 5,000 or more passengers are in town.

The nine voting members appointed by the Assembly represent different sectors of the community, including those in the tourism sector and general public. 

The task force’s first meeting was to review the rules for public meetings, and elect a chair and vice chair. Wednesday was a work session to brainstorm questions under each of the Assembly’s directives. The next meeting, July 12, also will be a work session.

The directives are to make recommendations on:

1. Levels of tourism in Sitka

2. An annual review of city and borough operations and tourism funding

3. The development of a Tourism Management Best Practices program

4. Land use regulations and waterfront development policies

5. Regional strategies to advance Sitka’s interests regarding cruise tourism.

Hackett suggested the directives on funding, best practices and land use be the first ones to work on, and the group also added questions related to levels of tourism.

The group created a list of questions to answer under each topic, and members volunteered to help collect information to bring back for the next work session in July. The three dozen topics and questions on the list covered a broad range, and included reviewing current services, regulations, impacts, costs and benefits such as sales tax derived from tourism.

The Assembly resolution says the task force will complete its recommendations by April 30, 2024, and the Assembly may decide to establish a permanent tourism commission.

“The task force is to advise the Assembly on whether a commission needs to be started up,” Assembly member Chris Ystad said today. Ystad is one of the co-sponsors of the Assembly task force resolution, who attended the first meeting and work session as Assembly liaison.

As to what directive he thinks is the most important, he said he thinks all of them are.

“Each one is important to different people,” he said. “Obviously the first one is huge. As they’re gathering info on two, three and four they’ll end up gathering information for directive 1. They’ll all be able to work together on that one, I’m hoping. As they’re working together on directive 1, that will lead to directive 5.”

Sitka Tourism Task Force members Cambria Holmes and James Michener discuss tasks during a work session Wednesday night at the Sitka Fire Department. (Sentinel Photo by Shannon Haugland)

 

 

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20 YEARS AGO

June 2004 

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

50 YEARS AGO

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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