Tourism Businesses Collaborating to Create Best Management Practices for Whittier in January, 2023
Whittier, Alaska, appropriately nicknamed the Gateway to Prince William Sound, has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists seeking a unique experience in the great outdoors.
And how could it not? With access to stunning natural scenery and abundant wildlife, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities both on and off the water. As the tourism sector continues to grow, business owners and residents are keen to ensure that their concerns around development, the environment, and operating logistics are heard in an effort to minimize any potential negative impacts to the area, its visitors, or its people. This spring, a broad coalition that includes business owners, tour operators, cruise lines, transportation providers, community members, Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation, the City of Whittier and the Prince William Sound Economic Development Distract are drafting a ‘best management practices’ guide for tourism. These community centered practices will help to ensure that Whittier remains not only a great place to visit, but a great place to live and work.
Several tourism hotspots in Alaska are already using this model with great success. Juneau, the Alaskan poster child for Tourism Best Management Practices, is coming up on its 26th year of developing and adapting guidelines for operators in the area. These include local streets to avoid when cruise ships are in town, coordinating timing of tour departures, wildlife viewing practices, and noise, crowd, and pollution control. Juneau’s TBMP are reviewed every year by operators and City staff to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and where change is needed in the growing and shifting tourism landscape.
TBMP guidelines are driven by community voices. Their purpose is not to be regulatory or disciplinary, but a voluntary endeavor that serves as an asset to operators, visitors, and community members. Active participation in the development (and, in future years, improvement) of these guidelines demonstrates a commitment to enhancing visitors’ experience in Whittier, fostering relationships between business owners, cruise operators, and the community, and protecting the very qualities that make Whittier the wonderful place it is. If you live, work, or run a business in Whittier, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how the summer tourist season could be improved. Please RSVP below to attend our first meeting in Anchorage (or to be added to our Tourism BMPs mailing list) to draft Whittier’s Tourism Best Management Practices.