Cruise West is planning to increase its small boat tours out of Juneau by 26 percent next summer, company officials said this week.
A Juneau tourism official said the new visits will be good for the city's economy.
The Seattle-based company competed for new visitation permits from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and got half of the 184 available small-ship entries into the park for next June, July and August.
The total number of vessels that can visit the park is three each day. The remaining 92 visitation permits will be split among five other small-ship operators, according to the national park.
"They (Cruise West) submitted a very good proposal," said David Nemeth, concessions director for the national park.
The Cruise West boats that visit Glacier Bay depart from and return to Juneau.
Larry Johansen, Juneau-based regional manager for Cruise West, said he is looking at hiring three new employees to handle the increased workload in Juneau.
Johansen said Cruise West is also considering sending one of its Juneau vessels to operate out of Yakutat next summer. "We're talking with the community," he said.
Though it isn't an exact comparison, the increased boat traffic from Cruise West exceeds the anticipated growth in large cruise ship passenger visits next year. That growth is estimated at 5 percent, statewide, according to the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska.
The new visits by Cruise West could have some benefit to Juneau's tourist economy.
"That's going to mean more turnaround business in Juneau, said John Beiler, director of tourism development for Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"They stay in our hotels," Beiler said, noting that the bed tax revenue helps support the visitors bureau. "It's just another segment that makes a good solid business for everybody."
Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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