JUNEAU, ALASKA – Alaska has welcomed its one millionth cruise ship visitor for the first time in seven years, a milestone that was proudly proclaimed by Governor Bill Walker himself.
From now on, Sept. 22, 2016 will forever be known as ‘Alaska Cruise Ship Visitor Day.’ On this day in Juneau, Wendy Yoisten of Alberta, who was travelling with her husband John onboard Holland America Line’s ms Zaandam, was welcomed by Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch, CLIA Alaska President John Binkley and a number of local officials as the state’s official one millionth cruise ship visitor. She was given a medallion, plaque and a basket of gifts from local businesses.
Of her arrival in Juneau, Binkley said: “We are so excited to welcome you to Alaska and our capital city of Juneau. Your arrival is a significant milestone. Reaching one million cruise visitors this year demonstrates the health and bright future in our industry.”
In his remarks, Lt. Gov. Mallot recognized the Governor’s proclamation, which states that visitor spending generates more than US$4 billion in economic activity. He added that cruise ships bring approximately half of all visitors to Alaska, while Mayor Koelsch highlighted Juneau’s position as Alaska’s most popular cruise ship port.
The industry is expected to bring even more visitors next year as Alaska continues to increase capacity. Holland America Line recently announced that it will 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. We lost about 15% of our market,” Binkley said. “Alaska is now seeing the benefits of the improved tax and regulatory environment enacted in 2010. Demand has also improved, following several years of significantly increased destination marketing. We have been able to build back our industry and all indications are that we will continue to grow.”