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For the first time in seven years, Alaska welcomed its one millionth cruise ship visitor.
Wendy Yoisten from St Albert, Alberta, Canada, with her husband John, arrived on Holland America Line’s Zaandam, which docked in Juneau, Alaska. Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch, CLIA Alaska President John Binkley and a number of local officials and residents of Juneau surprised Yoisten as she disembarked for the day.
Native dancers greeted the couple and Yoisten received a medallion, plaque and basket of gifts from Alaska businesses.
Governor Walker issued a proclamation for the occasion, declaring September 22, 2016, Alaska Cruise Ship Visitor Day. In his remarks, Lt. Gov. Mallott recognized the proclamation, which states that visitor spending generates more than $4 billion in economic activity, helping all regions of our state. He added that cruise ships bring approximately half of all visitors to Alaska. Mayor Koelsch read a proclamation highlighting Juneau’s position as Alaska’s most popular cruise ship port. Koelsch noted that visitor spending supports Juneau businesses, creates local jobs and accounts for 20 percent of sales taxes collected year-round.
The industry is expected to bring even more visitors next year as Alaska continues to increase capacity, CLIA Alaska said in a statement announcing the milestone. Holland America Line recently announced that it would be adding a seventh ship to the Alaska market next year. Seabourn has also announced that it will be returning to Alaska in 2017 for the first time in 15 years.
The last time Alaska saw more than 1,000,000 cruise visitors was 2009. “Following years of amazing growth, Alaska took a big hit,” Binkley said. “We lost about 15 percent of our market. Many businesses suffered and statewide, Alaska lost more than 5,000 jobs.”
CLIA Alaska, formally the Alaska Cruise Association, was formed in 2007 as a not-for-profit organization whose membership includes the major cruise tour companies operating in Alaska.