Some 124,000 cruise passengers visited the Matanuska-Susitna Borough last year, with the most popular destination being Talkeetna.

The seasonal cruise industry injected $16.4 million into the Matanuska-Susitna Borough economy last year, contributed $500,000 to local government in taxes and created 134 jobs in cruise line hotel and tour operations, according to a new economic impact study conducted by the McDowell Group.

An estimated 124,000 passengers visited the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in 2007. The most popular destination within the borough is Talkeetna. Cruise passengers traveling independently also visit Palmer and Wasilla. Additional attractions within the borough include Denali State Park, Hatcher Pass, Chugach State Park and Matanuska Glacier.

The cruise industry purchased good and services from 90 Matanuska-Susitna businesses. Statewide, the cruise industry brought $1.35 billion in to the Alaska economy. Cruise passenger spending directly or indirectly counts for half of the economic activity, followed by cruise line purchases and wages. The industry generated an estimated $100 million for state and local governments, with half going to the state and half to local governments.

Southeast Alaska receives about half (47 percent) of the total cruise passenger and cruise expenditures, followed by Southcentral Alaska with 26 percent and Interior/Other Alaska at 16 percent. Approximately 11 percent of expenditures have a statewide impact and cannot be attributed to any one region of the state.

The industry directly or indirectly supports and annual average of 14,500 full-time jobs in Alaska, including 7,000 in Southeast Alaska, 3,000 in Southcentral Alaska, 2,500 in Interior Alaska and 2,000 statewide.

“What we see is an industry that plays and increasingly vital role in the state’s economy,” said John Binkley, Alaska Cruise Association (ACA) President. “It also has grown more complex, affecting a wide variety of economic sectors.”

Forty percent of cruise visitors cross the Gulf of Alaska either to begin or end their Alaska vacation, a 23 percent increase over the past five years. These passengers cruise one way and fly one way, entering or leaving from the ports of Seward or Whittier via Anchorage.

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