Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Snips and Quips--News from the March 25 ATIA meeting

Besides doing the business of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, the news tidbits that get shared are interesting!
--"Employee hoarding" is an issue in Alaska, where there is a limited pool of potential employees. Wanatta Ayers from the AK Dept. of Labor spoke to us about state programs that offer workforce development. She explained some jobs like boat captains are in high demand, so creative companies have gone so far as to offer incentives like full-time benefits for part-time seasonal jobs in order to keep employees from wandering...
--Also regarding an already tight job market, Ms. Ayers also shared that for each year of graduates from the University of Alaska system, about 1/3 of them do not enter the workforce in Alaska (they move elsewhere, go on to next studies, or simply don't work). That represents a significant loss to the state, considering the state invests $1 billion a year to run those institutions.
--One political item we'd been tracking was a proposal in the port town of Whittier to steeply increase the tax for those arriving in Whittier, whether by motor coach or cruise ship or car. The city manager who proposed that new tax had quite a learning curve to learn about the legalities of interstate and intrastate taxing. The proposed tax has been re-thought by the Whittier City Council. As a side note, they are now accepting applications for the City Manager job. Having the cruise lines pull out of Whittier would have been an unimaginable worst-case scenario, had that tax proceeded. John Binkley, head of the Cruise Line Industry Association-Alaska did note that for other reasons Norwegian Cruises decided to make Seward their port destination instead of Whittier.
--Juneau tourism companies are on the countdown: 36 days until the first "revenue" ship docks in Juneau--that'd be the first cruise ship arriving for the summer season.
--The news from Alaska Airlines is that it's almost time to start up the summer schedule of 19 daily flights from Seattle, with three daily flights from Anchorage to Fairbanks. After cruisers, the next largest number of summer visitors arrive by air.

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