Pretty city that wants ‘cruise ship free Saturdays’ in crack down on tourism | World | News

Cruise lines have struck a deal with authorities in Alaska’s capital amid growing frustration from residents.

City officials have agreed to introduce a cap on the number of cruise ship passengers entering Juneau from 2026.

But residents are now demanding the authorities adopt even stricter policies, including the ban of cruise ships on Saturdays, to tackle overtourism.

The agreement, finalized late last week, seeks a daily limit of 16,000 cruise passengers on Sundays through Fridays and 12,000 on Saturdays.

However, officials said that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be that many people every day.

Cruise passenger numbers ramped up rapidly after two pandemic-stunted years, hitting a record of more than 1.6 million passengers in Juneau last year.

The sudden increase has been fuelling tension between businesses that rely on tourism and residents who are fed up with increased traffic, busy trails and the hum of helicopters ferrying visitors to glaciers.

Cruise seasons also have gotten longer, with the first boat this year arriving in Juneau in early April and the last set to arrive in late October.

On peak days in the past, passenger numbers have totalled about two-thirds of Juneau’s population of roughly 32,000 people.

A daily limit of five large ships took effect with the current season, as part of a separate agreement signed last year.

Alexandra Pierce, Juneau’s visitor industry director, said that the current agreement aims to hold cruise passenger numbers roughly steady, in the 1.6 million range.

Ms Pierce said: “The idea is that the agreement buys everybody time not only to see if it is sustainable but also to build the infrastructure that will help it feel more sustainable.”

Karla Hart, a longtime critic of the industry, is sceptical of the new agreement, saying it doesn’t do enough to address concerns many residents have that current tourism levels are unsustainable.

Ms Hart said: “It feels like we’re just getting led along again, and expansion will continue and more time will pass.”

Hart is helping push a proposed local ballot initiative that would institute “ship-free Saturdays,” with no cruise ships with a capacity of at least 250 passengers allowed to stop in Juneau on Saturdays or on July 4.

The signature-review process for the proposed measure is underway. If the measure is certified, it could appear on the October ballot.

Juneau is the latest city to introduce stricter regulations on how many cruises and tourists can access the city in response to a concerning growth in tourism rates.

Spain’s Palma de Majorca limits cruise ship arrivals to no more than three a day. Iceland has also capped the number of cruise passengers who can travel each day to 5,000.

Venice this year debuted its weekend €5 (£4.30) tourism tax on day trippers visiting the city centre. Visitors heading to the minor islands such as Murano and Burano will be exempt.

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