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Econ report: Expect drop in visitors

Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The numbers of cruise ships and passengers coming to Southeast Alaska waters are expected to dip slightly this summer, the Juneau-based McDowell Group said in an economic overview presented at the Southeast Conference on Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, fish prices have improved, timber production has stayed level and unemployment has declined, according to the consultants.

Holland America will add one ship in Southeast Alaska this summer, while Norwegian Cruise Line is dropping one from its fleet of four. Crystal Cruises is leaving the Alaska market, the McDowell Group's Susan Bell told members of the regional civic and business leadership group.

Also, Cruise West will make itinerary changes, she said.

The number of visitors is expected to drop some 50,000 passengers from last season's record high of 950,000. By individual ports, the biggest loser will be Wrangell, with only 6,000 passengers, or an 86 percent loss. Hoonah will see a 75 percent increase amounting to 136,000 tourists.

Juneau is predicted to have 28,000 fewer cruise ship visitors than its 948,000 total last year.

Fishermen fared better with higher salmon prices this year than before, with fresh kings fetching $5.29 a pound versus $3.37 in 2004 and frozen kings up $1.03 more than the year before.

The timber industry in 2005 saw flat production at 50 million board feet, a level similar to that seen the past five years.

The health and social services sector has grown by 100 jobs since 2003, according to the study. One of every 10 Southeast Alaska jobs is estimated to be in that sector.

Unemployment in the region dropped from 8.8 percent in 2004 to 7.9 percent last year and some 250 jobs were created.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauempire.com.



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