Israel MahayMahay: ‘Cruise industry great for Talkeetna’

Briefly describe business:
For nearly 40 years, Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures has offered sightseeing into the remote areas of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers. Our adventurers experience class 4 and 5 white water rapids in the safe environment of a dry jet boat. All ages are welcome to see the Alaska sights and experience the thrills Talkeetna has to offer.

When did you first become involved with the visitor industry?
I began my career in the visitor industry at the age of 12 as a Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures boat cleaner. When I turned 16, I began completing bookings and checking in guests. Then, at the age of 18, I obtained my U.S. Coast Guard Master’s license. I have been running adventure tours ever since.

How is your business affected by the cruise industry?
Over half of our business clientele are from the cruise ships. Our other customers include Alaska residents and independent travelers. A notable amount of these independent travelers have decided to revisit Alaska after making their initial visit on a cruise ship.

The cruise industry is great for Talkeetna’s economy. The industry supports the McKinley Lodge and the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge. Before these lodges were built, generations before mine had to move outside of Talkeetna to find work. Now my generation can stay in their hometown and work in the tourism industry.

How did you get your start with the cruise industry?
I have worked with the cruise industry indirectly since I was a kid. My family’s business has been able to flourish thanks to the cruise industry’s support of the two major lodges in the area. Many of the cruise passengers staying in the lodges book tours with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures.

What’s the best part of your job?
I love being on the water and being around people. This job allows me to do both. I feel very blessed to be able to do what I love.

What’s your favorite cruise passenger story?
At Mahay’s, we personalize our customers’ experience. We are creating memories that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

What should Alaska do to better support/protect the visitor/cruise industry?
Marketing what the state of Alaska can offer to the Lower 48 visitors is key. The more we can market our state, the better Alaskans will be. You can have the best product in the world, but, if people don’t know about it, the product won’t matter.

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