Ridership on the Alaska Marine Highway System has decreased in the last 20 years. In the same time period, cruise ships have gotten larger and more numerous, and cruise ship passengers have arrived in exponentially increasing numbers. What is the connection? Are we actually harming the financial viability of our marine highway by permitting more and larger cruise ships to dock? Are we harming our own tourism businesses (hotels and restaurants) by making ferry sailings more limited, less certain and more expensive? To what extent have increased cruise ship dockings discouraged travelers who might have come on one of our ferries? I think these are questions worthy of economic analysis.
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