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Visitors up but still below historic highs

Summer visitors increased 2 percent in 2011 but remained well below the historical peak of 1.71 million in 2007.

Some 1,556,800 tourists visited Alaska between May and September 2011, according to a newly released study by the McDowell Group. Of these, 57 percent came by cruise ship, 39 percent by air and 4 percent by highway or ferry.

Two-thirds of summer visitors purchased a multi-day package, including 100 percent of cruise passengers, 18 percent of air visitors and 7 percent of highway/ferry travelers.

Southeast Alaska was the most visited region in the state, attracting 68 percent of all visitors, followed by Southcentral at 56 percent, Interior by 33 percent, Southwest by 4 percent and Far North by 2 percent. Juneau was the most visited destination at 61 percent, followed by Ketchikan at 58 percent and Anchorage and Skagway at 49 percent.

Visitors were extremely satisfied with their Alaska experience, citing the friendliness of residents, the scenery and the tours and activities. Among U.S. markets, Alaska visitors were most likely to be from the West at 36 percent, followed by the South at 22 percent, the Midwest at 14 percent and the East at 11 percent. Canada accounted for 7 percent of visitors.

Spending continued to be flat with the average visitor spending $102 per day.

Alaska expects to see an increase in visitors in 2012, including 940,000 cruise passengers. With the addition of a Princess ship, increased capacity from Holland America Line and Disney returning this year, we will see our visitor numbers growing again.

Click here to view the entire report.

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