Today (4-25-23), the first cruise ship of the summer arrives in Sitka, marking the start of what should be a record-breaking season. But the community’s response to the growth in cruise travel is evolving. Tonight the Sitka Assembly will decide whom to appoint to the newly formed “tourism task force,” which will explore next steps for the city’s long term management of tourism.

The task force has five directives to tackle over the next year. They’ve been asked to make recommendations in several important areas:

– the level of tourism in Sitka, 

– an annual review cycle of city operations and tourism funding, 

– a tourism management best practices plan,

– land use and waterfront development policies, 

– and regional strategies to advance Sitka’s interests in the tourism sector. 

Once the task force’s year is up in April of 2024, it may also recommend the assembly create a permanent tourism commission. 

The nine member body has designated a certain number of seats for representatives from the tourism and cruise industries, local businesses, and members of the public as well as the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Ports and Harbors Commission and Sustainability Commission.

View the list of applicants for each seat here

In other business the assembly will consider, on final reading, whether to make early voting a permanent option for voters in Sitka’s municipal elections. And it will consider whether to apply for several state and federal grants, including one that would pay for the city to develop a renewable energy strategy, and another that would help fund repairs for the Crescent Harbor net shed. 

The Sitka Assembly meets at 6 p.m. tonight. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live, following Alaska News Nightly.