All around the world, folks who lead tours offer helpful suggestions to tourists on where they should shop for local items. Sometimes they can be very helpful, but often they receive a commission for steering you through a retailer’s door.
Recently the state of Alaska blew the whistle on that.
For years, major cruise lines serving Alaskan ports have had on-board folks known as “port lecturers.” Yes, they offer advice on what to see when a ship docks, but they often act more as salespeople than guides. They work for large companies that charge stores in that port to be part of their list of so-called “approved” shops.
The not-so-subtle suggestion is that other merchants might rip you off.
This goes on around the globe. I’ve had guides take me to their “cousin’s”—and I put that word in quotes—jewelry stores in Thailand and India. On the streets of Istanbul or Marrakesh, helpful locals offer to show you the very best carpet store in town often owned by their “cousin,” too.
But Alaska just levied new rules on cruise lines that require port lecturers to be identified as sales people. And they’re forbidden to cast aspersions, subtle or otherwise, on other retailers.