The tourist season kicked off on Memorial Day as the first cruise ship of the year docked at the Port of Anchorage, bringing hundreds of passengers to the city.
The average tourist spends about $941 in Alaska during their stay. With oil prices still low, every dollar they put into the local economy helps.
“We had record-breaking days these last few days from the cruise ships coming in,” said Andres Guarderas, who operates a hot dog stand downtown.
Visit Anchorage estimates about 11,000 cruise ship passengers came to Anchorage last summer, and predicts more will visit this year. In addition to passengers docking in Anchorage, more than 330,000 cruise passengers come through Anchorage, arriving from Whittier and Seward.
“It was really exciting when they were getting off the boat today. There was a moose down at Ship Creek,” said Anchorage trolley manager Cyrus Aldeman. “So at first they saw everybody fishing, and then the driver was like, ‘Hey, there’s a moose with a baby!’ So they loved that as well.”
It’s not just cruise ship passengers visiting, tourists are also flying up from the Lower 48.
“It’s not what I expected,” said Matthew Tribbett, from Denver. “It’s a lot warmer, a lot more sun, and a lot more flowers than I anticipated.”
Aldeman said there are more than 30,000 flowers planted around downtown, and the tourists are loving them.
Businesses downtown say if this weekend is a sign of how the rest of the tourist season will go, it’ll be a good summer for Alaska.
Source: Daniella Rivera, KTVA