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Empire Editorial: Now that the cruise ships are gone

Posted: September 22, 2012 - 11:11pm

As the ship Oosterdam sails away this Wednesday at 9 p.m. carrying 3,476 people, including crew and passengers, it will represent the last cruise ship until next spring for Juneau and the last of an estimated 1,271,773 seasonal visitors that had access to our restaurants, bars, art galleries, movie theaters and retail shops.

The city of Juneau and its business community are grateful to cruise companies such as Holland America, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, American Safari and Royal Caribbean, among others.

Its clear that the millions of seasonal dollars injected in the local economy likely will not be duplicated in the fall; after all, according to a 2010 State of Alaska economic report on visitor spending prepared by the McDowell Group, the cruise industry is 42 percent of our overall visitor spending.

However, as impactful as the five-month cruise ship economic boost is, there are still many thriving downtown businesses and tour operators that remain open long after the rear of the Oosterdam is no longer visible and the seasonal shops and vendors have hibernated for winter. We must keep in mind that our remaining downtown businesses are also staples of Juneau culture and enterprise, and of course, are very important annual contributors to the city tax base.

We take a moment to shamelessly plug these businesses because they often receive little fanfare as the exciting sounds of summer diminish.

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