If you think 2018 looks great, just wait for 2019 and 2020.
John Binkley, president of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska (CLIA Alaska), said the Alaska cruise industry will see unprecedented growth over the next two years.
“Alaska will continue to set records the next two years, with an anticipated cruise visitor growth of 19 percent over 2017. We look forward to welcoming an estimated 1,310,000 cruise visitors in 2019,” Binkley told a group at the Southeast Conference Mid-Session Summit in Juneau.
This first release of 2019 projections indicates cruise visitors to Alaska will increase 12 percent over 2018 projections, which are expected to set another record over 2017.
Binkley attributed the growth to the high demand for Alaska cruises and the extremely high level of guest experience. “Alaska is an exotic destination for many travelers. There aren’t many places where cruise passengers get to experience the mountains, glaciers, wildlife, culture and such hospitable hosts who welcome and eagerly share what they love most about our state. Alaska ranks very high in guest satisfaction.”
Binkley also discussed the projected economic benefits of the anticipated growth. “Over the next two years, we will see an increase of $137.5 million in annual passenger spending, which will generate significant revenues for local communities.” In Juneau for example, total taxable passenger spending is projected to be $212 million for the 2019 summer season. This equates to approximately $1.8 million more every year in sales tax for the community, resulting in nearly 25 percent of all sales taxes collected and the services funded by those taxes coming from the visitor industry.
Another success story is Icy Strait Point (ISP) in the community of Hoonah. ISP is a relatively new port in the Alaska cruise industry. Starting with a total of 32 ship calls in 2004, they are projected to receive 122 calls in 2019, making ISP the fourth-most-visited cruise ship port in Alaska. Owned by the local village corporation, Huna Totem Corp, they have over 85 percent local hire from the community of Hoonah.
Robert Venables, executive director of the Southeast Conference, said, “It is exciting to hear the strong growth projections for the cruise industry in Alaska. That growth will bring positive economic opportunities to our Southeast communities, and we look forward to working with the industry to make sure Alaska remains one of the top destinations in the world.”
CLIA Alaska member lines sent 33 ships on 497 voyages carrying a total of 1,089,700 passengers to Alaska in 2017. The projections for 2018 are 34 CLIA Alaska ships, 519 voyages and 1,165,500 passengers. Projected 2019 figures are 37 CLIA Alaska ships, 567 voyages and 1,310,000 passengers.
“The growth of the cruise tourism industry in Alaska is remarkable, and as we look to the future, we see great potential for continued growth and the chance to share our great state to well over a million people each season,” Binkley said.