As the 2009 season draws to an end many in Southeast Alaska are already getting anxious about summer 2010. The redeployment of ships by four major cruise lines from Southeast Alaskan itineraries represent approximately 140,000 - 200,000 less visitors next year. Local officials and business owners are concerned at the potential loss.
On August 20th, over 300 people representing the tourism industry and government officials met in Anchorage to discuss how to bring back business. Tourism Summits are being held around the state. Some attendees like Stan Stephens of Stan Stephens Cruises, Valdez, Alaska, were critical saying that the state has not done enough to attract potential visitors; quoting, “It takes dollars to produce to dollars.”
Some suggested that the 2006 voter-approved law instating a $50 per person head tax should be repealed. Along with the downturn in the economy and the resultant decrease in bookings many cruise lines cited the head tax as contributing to their decision to withdraw ships.
The two northern ports of Whittier and Seward will be most severely hit; Whittier will lose 40 percent of its cruise passengers and Seward will lose about 20 percent.
For more information on the Summit go to: www.alaskatourismsummit.org