By Melinda Munson

The borough assembly voted Jan. 21 to change the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s name to the Skagway Visitor Department. The Convention and Visitors Board will now be known as the Skagway Visitor Advisory Board. All assembly members voted yes on the legislation, Ordinance 21-01.

In its original form, Ordinance 21-01 would have changed the bureau’s name to the Skagway Tourism Department.

Assemblymember Steve Burnham proposed the word tourist be replaced with visitor, pointing out that many people, such as truck drivers, pass through Skagway and spend money but aren’t tourists. His amendment was unanimously approved.

Resolution 21-01R also passed, giving the visitor department permission to use branding other than the municipality’s official slogan.

“Shedding the tagline ‘Gateway to the Klondike’ is critical in our path forward. As a premiere travel destination, we don’t want to be the gateway to somewhere else. It diminishes our status in the marketplace to potential visitors,” tourism director Cody Jennings said.

Jennings first approached the assembly in October of 2020, hoping for more flexibility with marketing campaigns.

With the fallout of cruise ship travel and the border to Canada still closed due to COVID-19, Skagway is expected to start focusing on independent travellers.

“We’re not even the gateway to the Klondike right now. We’ve got some false advertising going on,” joked Mayor Andrew Cremata.

Burnham was the only no vote for Resolution 21-01R, stating he wanted the assembly to have more oversight of the visitor department’s marketing strategies than the language provided.

Assemblymember Reba Hylton disagreed, saying she would like to grant “as much leniency as we can give to this department, because I fully trust them.”

Assemblymember Orion Hanson added that “being nimble is an important thing,” and would be made difficult by frequent check-ins with the assembly.

Resolution 21-01R pertains only to the visitor department and does not change the municipality’s seal or motto.