he environmental movement has been
right all along. It is clear to us now that pollution from cruise
ships and tourism in general has poisoned the air and waters of
Alaska to such an extent that the state's elected officials are
exhibiting signs of dementia.
How else to explain Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal to
balance the state budget in 2004 by requiring visitors to buy a $15
"wildlife conservation pass" for the privilege of gawking at
The fee for the puffin pass would be collected by cruise lines
and tour operators, and a portion of the proceeds would be used for
According to an aide to Murkowski, hunters and fishermen in
Alaska would not pay the fee because they already contribute to
conservation when they buy hunting and fishing licenses.
Camera-toting tourists, however, are deemed to be "nonconsumptive
users of wildlife," who now are being asked to shoulder part of the
No word yet on the status of "nonconsumptive users of
Before you ask, "What are they putting in the water up there?"
be advised that it's affecting the statehouse as well as the
House Bill No. 207, introduced by Rep. Carl Gatto, would impose
a $100 excise tax on anyone traveling "in the marine waters of the
state" in a commercial passenger vessel. A hundred bucks!
Passengers on the Alaska Marine Highway, the state-run ferry
system, would be exempt.
We love Alaska, and all things Alaskan, but we hate to see it
spoiled by myopic politicians who can't keep their hands out of the
pockets of fellow Americans who just want to experience the great
land for a few days, savor some salmon and go home with their home
movies, snapshots and memories.
Is that so much to ask?
• • •
t is becoming increasingly
clear to observers of the airline and hotel industries that
Internet distribution is more complicated than simply turning on
the server and sitting back to count one's blessings.
As our Page 1 story in the March 31 issue of Travel Weekly
suggests, one has to manage the process, or it ends up managing
Agents long have wondered when airline executives would catch on
to the absurdity of giving up $100 in revenue to save $10 in
Hoteliers claim to be aware of that trap, but they also seem
determined to beat the discounters at their own game, even as they
complain of declining yields.
Someday, travel suppliers may figure out a way to harness the
Internet to increase their yields.
Until then, it looks like travel agents will remain the only
distribution channel that can sell up -- if given the opportunity
to do so.
Look for additional details on this article in the March 31
issue of Travel Weekly.