Alaska welcomed its first large cruise ship of the season .
Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas called in Ketchikan, marking nearly two years without large ships plying Alaska's waters.
“It’s a happy day for Alaska’s tourism industry and communities that rely on tourism in Alaska. This short cruise season means the difference between reopening or closing for good for so many small, locally owned businesses. We are grateful to our congressional delegation, governor and legislators for their hard work to bring cruise ships back to the state this year,” said Alaska Travel Industry Association President and CEO Sarah Leonard. “We are really proud that we could fight alongside them on behalf of our members and all of the statewide tourism businesses and support them in this recovery period.”
Before the pandemic, in 2019, more than 52,000 Alaskans depended on tourism for their income and 1 in 10 jobs was attributed to Alaska tourism. more than 52,000 Alaskans depended on tourism for their income and 1 in 10 jobs was attributed to Alaska tourism. The industry pumped approximately $4.5 billion into the state with cruise lines bringing more than half of Alaska's visitors.
Also prior to the pandemic, tourism was on track to becoming Southeast Alaska's largest economic sector in 2020, with an estimated 1.44 million visitors traveling by cruise and spending nearly $800 million in the region, according to the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
Now, most of the major cruise lines are headed back to the region but with limited capacity and a shortened season that will extend into October. Nine large cruise ships will be operating 78 sailings, according to Cruise Lines International Association. In addition to several small ship operators, cruise lines bringing guests to Alaska include Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
“We’re seeing an increase in independent travelers already this summer and that’s excellent news for a lot of businesses," Leonard said. "However, we know large cruise ship travelers are also an important part to our tourism recovery."
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