KETCHIKAN, Alaska -- The threat of new, and potentially bothersome,
tourism taxes in Alaska is very real, members of the Alaska
Visitors Association were warned last week.
Ken Dole, the outgoing president of the association and operator
of the Waterfall Resort, near Ketchikan, told delegates at the
annual AVA convention here that communities throughout the state
were eying tourists as an additional revenue source.
"We must try to ensure that when new tourism taxes are
introduced, they are taxes we can live with," Dole said in his
final address as AVA president. "We must convince our legislators
-- at state and local levels -- of the importance of our business
to the economy."
Residents of Juneau, the state capital, recently voted to impose
a $5 charge for every cruise ship passenger entering its port next
And voters in Haines indicating their desire to implement a
hotel room tax and to restrict the volume of tourist traffic into
These ballot results were advisory measures, for the guidance of
the local council, not automatic law.
"We lost in Juneau, and the vote in Haines did not go exactly as
we hoped," Dole said. "And we dodged a bullet in the [state]
legislature this year when we faced a targeted tourism tax, which
didn't pass. But the danger isn't over yet," he continued. "We
still must be wary."
The convention at which Dole bowed out as president will be
AVA's last; next year, it will be replaced by a new body, the
Alaska Travel Industry Association, which will assume the
promotional responsibilities of AVA; the state Division of Tourism,
and the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council, a joint public/private
sector marketing and promotional organization.
The change to a single entity was developed in response to a
declining promotional budget and the need to bring more members
into the dues-paying community of tourism companies.
The state has cut its contribution to the effort by so much,
according to Dole, that Alaska now stands 29th among the 50 states
in tourism promotional spending.
"[Alaska must] reestablish itself as a major player in the
tourism game," Dole said. "It's not that the AVA is no longer
effective; it is. But we have to reorganize in order that we can
take a greater hand in promoting our state."