Cruise ship spending on the increase

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2001

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A study shows that cruise ships, passengers and crew members spent nearly $66 million in Ketchikan in 1999.

The spending helped generate nearly $3 million in sales tax revenue for the city, according to the study by McDowell Group, an economic research company which presented its findings to the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce last week.

The cruise industry, by passenger traffic, has increased 154 percent in the past decade. At the same time, state employment decreased 5 percent since 1990 and federal employment was down 14 percent. Fishing remained steady but the timber industry decreased 66 percent, the report said.

''What we're saying is, in terms of a growth industry, this is it,'' said senior partner Eric McDowell.

The study was prepared for the Southeast Conference and focused on the economic impact of the cruise ship industry on four Southeast Alaska communities. It indicates a total of about $181 million was pumped into Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Haines in 1999.

The report said passengers by far pumped the most money into the local economies. Almost $150 million was spent in those communities by cruise ship passengers on shore excursions, souvenirs and food.

In Ketchikan, passengers spent nearly $54 million, which was about $20 million less than in Juneau where the most spending occurred. Sitka was third at about $12 million and Haines received almost $9 million.

Cruise lines spent about $22 million in the four communities. Ketchikan received about $8.5 million of that. Juneau received about $11 million, before the city's $5 head tax. Sitka got about $1.3 million and Haines received $1 million.

Crew members spent about $10 million in the towns. Most of it was spent in Juneau and Ketchikan, with Juneau receiving nearly half.

Ketchikan's sales tax revenue nearly matched that of Juneau, according to the report, because the city is more retail-oriented than Juneau.

Cruise-related jobs employed nearly 1,600 people in the four Southeast Alaska communities. They generated about $12 million in payroll in Ketchikan, which was only about $3 million less than in Juneau.

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