Report: Cruise ship industry has big impact on Alaska's economy

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004

The cruise line industry generated 18,500 full- and part-time jobs totaling $612 million in income for Alaska last year, according to a new industry study.

That's up from 2002 when the industry generated 16,455 jobs and $595 million in income in the state, said Christine Fischer, director of communications for the International Council of Cruise Lines, which commissioned the study. Business Research and Economic Advisors drafted the study, which was released on Tuesday.

To compare, nationally the cruise industry generated $25.4 billion and over 295,000 jobs in 2003, the study said.

Alaska was fourth in the nation for a second year in a row last year with $694 million in direct spending, after Florida, California and New York. Direct spending includes that of cruise ship passengers, crew members, industry-related tour operations and expenses by cruise lines.

Cruise passengers and crew members spent $406 million in Alaska, the study said. Passengers spent an average of $140 per port visit in the state.

Mike Windred, director of operations at Alaska Travel Adventures in Juneau, wouldn't have his job if it weren't for the cruise line industry, he said Tuesday.

"It truly was the cruise ship industry why Alaska Travel Adventures is here today," Windred said.

Alaska Travel Adventures came to Juneau in 1980 before the cruise line industry saw enormous growth rates. By the mid- to late-1980s, as the cruise line industry grew, the company also expanded due to marketing and securing contracts with cruise line agencies, Windred said. The company offers such excursions as river rafting, kayaking, and gold panning.

By the mid-1990s, competition for cruise ship customers increased so Alaska Travel Adventures did not continue to grow at the same rate but still did well, he said.

Joe Sonneman, a Juneau resident since 1971, said he remembers when the rate of cruise ship passengers began rising in Juneau, and thinks it's surpassed the comfort level. A good balance would be about 500,000 passengers per year, six days a week, compared to the estimated 800,000 expected to visit seven days of the week this year, he said.

"Individually, the ones I've met I like, but as a group it's too many," Sonneman said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.



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