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CVB Loses Director As Tourism Season Nears

Greta Mart

Unalaska's tourism office will be missing an executive director when the first cruise ship of the season docks here on April 23.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Saturday, over a thousand passengers and a few hundred crewmembers will disembark the Crystal Serenity, expecting a day full of sightseeing.

One of the remaining two staff members of the Unalaska and Port of Dutch Harbor Convention and Visitors Bureau says CVB representatives will be at the dock to greet the boat. But as the summer tourism season approaches, it's unclear who will captain the nonprofit created to welcome out-of-towners and promote the island as a vacation destination.

Current Executive Director Randy Shinn emailed his resignation to the CVB board in mid-March, offering to stay through the non-profit's biggest fundraiser of the year - the upcoming wine tasting event at the Grand Aleutian.

Shinn's last official day on the job is April 15, and he volunteered to host the wine tasting event on April 16.

Shinn was hired as CVB director in the fall and moved back to the island for his new role. After a few months, Shinn says he realized the job was not a good fit.

"I wish them success with the future person, but yeah, it was maybe just too big of a job without specific training," Shinn said.

The CVB has a recent history of high turnover in its leadership. At the March 24 CVB board meeting, chair Matt Reinders addressed Shinn's resignation as the board decided next steps.

"Sad to hear that news but if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work. So we certainly understand and we appreciate you staying on to get us through the fundraising event. And we appreciate you continuing to work to get the grant secured so that we can operate," Reinders said.

The City of Unalaska's annual community grant makes up the majority of the non-profit's income. The bureau earns money by fundraising and selling coupon books, and it receives fees from cruise ship companies for shoreside tourism services.

Visitor Coordinator Erica Mobley says the CVB has been organizing the upcoming cruise ship visits since last August. Ten ships are slated to make calls to the island this summer. 

Bureau staff say they have lined up locals to do tour narration and that they are ready to accommodate ship passengers during their time here.

In addition to Shinn's stepping down, Mobley recently submitted her resignation as well.  But as of Wednesday, she remains in negotiations with the board. Regardless of how current CVB staffing issues pan out in the next few weeks, Mobley says she plans to volunteer to ensure success for that first cruise ship visit.

The board is expected to discuss staffing issues at its April 11 meeting.