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Tourist haven in Alaska may vote on banning cruise ships from docking on Saturdays

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Each year, hordes of tourists descend upon Alaska’s capital city via cruise ships, eager to witness natural wonders like the swiftly receding Mendenhall Glacier. However, simmering tensions regarding Juneau’s burgeoning tourism industry have reached a boiling point with a new voter initiative aimed at granting locals relief from the influx of tourists.Scheduled for the October 1 municipal ballot, the initiative proposes banning cruise ships carrying 250 or more passengers from docking in Juneau on Saturdays and on July 4, coinciding with a local parade day.

The measure has sparked a debate over the balance between economic benefits and environmental impacts, particularly in a city that has a negative impact of climate change.

Also read: Air India flyers can now connect to 32 destinations in US, Mexico and CanadaJuneau, accessible solely by air or water, boasts attractions such as the iconic Mendenhall Glacier, drawing cruise ships that dwarf parts of its modest downtown skyline. Concerns voiced by many of the city’s 32,000 residents include increased traffic, congested trails, and the intrusive noise of sightseeing helicopters ferrying tourists to the glaciers.

Supporters of the initiative, like long-time resident Deborah Craig, argue for preserving Juneau’s quality of life amidst an overwhelming influx of visitors. She emphasises the importance of clean air, water, and easy access to the region’s natural beauty, urging a thoughtful approach to tourism management.

Deborah Craig, who has lived in Juneau for decades, supports ship-free Saturdays. Craig, who lives across the channel from where the ships dock, often hears their early-morning fog horns and broadcast announcements made to passengers that are audible across the water.

The current “overwhelming” number of visitors diminishes what residents love so much about Juneau, she told AP.

“It’s about preserving the lifestyle that keeps us in Juneau, which is about clean air, clean water, pristine environment and easy access to trails, easy access to water sports and nature,” she said of the initiative.

“There’s this perception that some people are not welcoming of tourists, and that’s not the case at all,” Craig said. “It’s about volume. It’s about too much — too many in a short period of time overwhelming a small community.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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