A record number of cruise visitors came to Alaska in 2017, and that number is expected to make a sizeable jump in the next two years.
John Binkley, the president of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Alaska, said his organization predicts a 19 percent jump from the number of cruise ship visitors in 2017 to the number of visitors in 2019. That would result in more than 200,000 more passengers, Binkley said.
Meilani Schijvens, director of the research firm Rain Coast Data, said almost all of these visitors come through Juneau. More tourists visit Juneau in the summer than any other city in the state, she said.
Binkley debuted these numbers at the Southeast Conference’s Mid-Session Summit on Feb. 14 in Juneau, showing that about 1.09 million cruise visitors came to Alaska in 2017 (a record). That was on 33 ships and just under 500 voyages. In 2018, the number of voyages should jump to 519 which would then result in 1.17 million visitors, CLIA projects.
In 2019, CLIA expects 37 ships to make 567 voyages and bring 1.31 million people to Alaska. That represents a 50 percent growth since 2010, when 876,000 cruise passengers came to Alaska. Binkley reported that cruise visitors in 2017 spent $176.6 million in Juneau in 2017, which CLIA projects will grow to above $200 million in 2019.
This precipitous rise is the result of major cruise lines adding larger ships and sending more ships to Alaska, Binkley said. Schijvens said Alaska is a very popular destination at the moment, especially for people who want to go somewhere different but don’t want to travel abroad.
“This industry is strong, it’s growing,” Binkley said to the attendees. “It’s got a bright and wonderful future.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that a 19 percent increase in cruise passengers would be 2 million more passengers. It’s 200,000 more passengers, not 2 million. The Empire regrets this error
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