Alaska broke its 2019 record for cruise ship tourists this summer, with the state’s capital recording 1.65 million passengers this year, according to numbers presented at Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Most of Alaska’s tourists come by cruise ships, but Juneau sees all but a few cruise ships visiting Alaska each summer, so Juneau’s numbers are representative of the industry as a whole. I am.
Newly released figures show a recovery from the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and some recovery since then.
Juneau recorded 1.2 million cruise ship visitors in 2022, 124,600 in 2021, 48 in 2020, and 1.33 million in 2019. The 2019 numbers were the previous record.
“This is a 23% increase from the best season ever,” said Meilani Sijbens, director of economics firm Rain Coast Data, which published the figures.
“We’ve had a really, really strong season here in Southeast Alaska,” Sigibens said.
The numbers are based on per-passenger poll tax figures calculated by the City and Borough of Juneau and are part of an annual report commissioned by the Southeast Conference, a regional economic development organization in Southeast Alaska. It was announced as.
Juneau Port Director Karl Usitil said these include only “stated passenger numbers” and not the thousands of crew members aboard the ship. The figures also do not distinguish between passengers who disembarked in the city and those who stayed on board.
Juneau Economic Development Council Director Brian Holst said the numbers are “definitely” good news for the community, as “economic sectors such as tourism have come back strongly” since the pandemic emergency. Ta.
“Companies are reporting either a good year or a great year,” he said.
An annual panel survey of 370 Southeast Alaska business owners found that 73% had a positive view of the local economy, the highest score since the survey began in 2010.
Almost 80% of survey participants said they also have positive expectations for 2024.
Tourism accounts for 15% of jobs in Southeast Alaska, but only 9% of wages. Most tourism jobs are seasonal and occur during cruise ship season, which runs from April to October.
Government jobs, including state, federal, local, and tribal, account for more than one-third of the region’s employment and wages, making it a major economic sector.
Although the number of tourists visiting is higher than in 2019, the number of tourism-related jobs in Southeast Alaska is still lower than last year’s level, and so are wages. Tourism-related employment accounted for 12% of all wages in Southeast Alaska in 2019, but has declined during the pandemic.
Employers in the region continue to report labor shortages, particularly in finding construction workers.
“In fact, we could use more foreign workers coming to the United States and Alaska to strengthen our economy,” Sigibens said.
According to her firm’s research, more than half of the region’s business leaders said the housing shortage has hurt their employees.
Survey respondents also said the cost and availability of child care were key factors in their inability to hire and retain workers.
Over the past 12 years, the average single-family home price in Juneau has increased 52 percent, 22 percentage points above the inflation rate over that period, Schiebens said. Over the same period, average wages in the city rose 38%, eight points above the inflation rate.
Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon said of the 2023 cruise ship season, “While we are pleased with our visitor numbers, we also understand that our community is feeling some tension this year.” Told.
Concerns about traffic congestion and overcrowding have grown as passenger numbers have increased, and the city has reached a voluntary agreement with the cruise industry to limit the number of ships allowed each day.
Starting next year, only five large ships will be allowed to pass through the area each day. According to preliminary data shared by Schiebens, 50 ships are planning a total of 660 voyages to Southeast Alaska in 2024, with the first ship in Juneau on April 8 and the last ship in October. It is scheduled to arrive on the 26th.
This is an extension of this year’s record-long cruise ship season, which began in mid-April, and Mr Schiebens expects next year’s number of tourists to the capital to reach a new record of 1.7 million.
It was originally published by alaska beaconan independent, nonpartisan news organization covering Alaska state government.