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Letter to the editor

Oppose bed tax increase

To the editor: I’m writing to oppose the local bed tax increase proposal.

I’ve called Fairbanks my home for almost 20 years. It’s a fantastic place with so much to offer visitors.

However, there’s a lot more competition these days for tourist dollars. Gone are the decades when visiting Alaska invariably meant seeing the three major cities — the capital city of Juneau; Anchorage as the largest city; and Fairbanks as the city most representative of the Interior of the state. Denali Park, in particular, has developed to the point that I suspect many tourists feel that going that far north is good enough, that seeing Denali is both experiencing the grandeur of the tallest peak in North America and seeing the Interior.

Our wonderful city still is a sought-after tourist destination, but because the state overall has become much more developed, the bottom line is we simply don’t have the same draw that we used to have relative to the sum of all other destinations.

Bush Alaskans who frequent Fairbanks for shopping also have more options nowadays. My hunch is that as the price for a stay increases, more rural Alaskans will bypass shopping in our city altogether. Instead of buying from fellow Alaskans, for economic reasons they’ll feel forced to turn to Amazon.

Lower tourist numbers and bush Alaska numbers have the potential to harm hospitality businesses and employees of such businesses directly and also to have negative repercussions for the overall economy of Fairbanks. Fewer visitors equates to fewer dollars. I’m asking the Fairbanks City Council to think through such consequences before they vote for a bed tax increase.

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