The cruise industry contributed $595 million to Alaska's economy through direct purchases in 2002, according to a study commissioned by the International Council of Cruise Lines.
The study, released on Aug. 28, was created with existing research from firms such as the Juneau-based McDowell group and the North West Cruiseship Association in Vancouver, B.C., combined with research done by the Philadelphia-based firm Business Research and Economic Advisors.
The study found that the Pacific region, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii, was the destination for 17 percent of the 7.5 million U.S. residents that went on cruises in 2002.
Since 2000, the number of passengers in the Pacific region has increased by more than 20 percent, according to the study.
The industry directly and indirectly employed 16,455 Alaskans last year, a 13 percent increase over 2001, the study found. Direct employment includes work in the retail and tour sector, catering to cruise ship passengers. Indirect employment covers those who sell food, supplies and services to direct employers, said Andrew Moody, president of Business Research and Economic Advisors.
The workers were paid $546 million in wages, the average annual wage being $33,200.
"That's just an average across all of the impacted workers," said Moody. "A retail trade worker did not earn $33,000, but a port worker probably earned more than $33,000."
Tracking the number of indirect and direct jobs created by the cruise industry is difficult because most of the companies are registered in other states or countries, said Dan Robinson, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
"We can't really verify or deny (the number of jobs created) either way," he said.
As a practice, the state doesn't even try to track indirect jobs created by an industry, said Neal Gilbertsen, an economist for the state.
"We don't use the multiples of guessing how many jobs something creates in different fields because it's speculative rather than monitoring," he said.
About 770,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to have visited Juneau by the end of this year's season. That's 50,000 more passenger than last year's totals, industry experts said.
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