Economic impact by region

Alaska’s tourism economy accounts for one in 10 jobs in the state and more than $4 billion in total spending. 2018 was a record year for Alaska tourism, bringing in more than 2 million visitors to our state. This year should be even brighter as the state greets even larger ships. The Nieuw Amsterdam (2,100 passengers) replaces the Oosterdam (1,848) while the Explorer of the Seas (3,100) replaces Jewel of the Seas (2,100). Holland America is sending sevens ships to Alaska this season and Seabourn is returning to Alaska after a 15-year hiatus.

Visitor Spending by Region


Director Visitor Industry Spending, 2017

Total Direct Spending: $2.8 billion


Regional Employment Impacts, 2017

Regional Employment impacts 2017

Sources: McDowell Group: The Role of Visitors in Alaska’s Economy (prepared for Alaska Chamber on October 25, 2018).

Southeast Alaska


Ninety-two percent of all cruise visitors stop in Ketchikan.

Almost all Alaska itineraries include visits to Southeast Alaska, which has three major ports of call: Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Ships also make port calls in Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Haines. As the region’s hub, 99 percent of the ships stop in Juneau and 90 percent call on Ketchikan. Visitor industry-related employment plays the greatest role in Southeast, accounting for 21 percent of employment and 14 percent of labor income. To better handle the larger ships that are now calling on Alaska, Juneau built two Panamax docks that enable the city to handle two, 1,000-foot vessels at a time. Icy Strait Point added a 400-foot floating dock and Welcome Center. Port expansion projects are underway or under study in Ketchikan and Skagway.


Southcentral Alaska


Many ships cross the Gulf of Alaska where their visits begin or end in Anchorage, via the port communities of Seward and Whittier.

For many years, cruise ship-related traffic through Anchorage came at the beginning or end of one-way itineraries, with passengers primarily entering and exiting through the ports of Whittier and Seward. This year, the Amsterdam directly calls nine times on Anchorage. Some 63 ships will call on Seward, including Crystal, which will end its Alaska season with a trip through the Northwest Passage. Twenty-nine ships will call on Whittier. Cruise lines do business with 1,100 Southcentral businesses and support 3,000 jobs in the region, with a payroll of $110 million. Both Anchorage and Seward have major port renovation projects under way or under study.



Although landlocked, the city of Fairbanks benefits from visits by cruise passengers who extend their travel with a tour to Alaska’s Interior.

Although landlocked, the city of Fairbanks benefits from visits by cruise passengers who extend their travel with a tour to Alaska’s Interior.

Despite being hundreds of miles from the ocean, Interior Alaska enjoys the economic benefits of the cruise industry each summer, as about 22 percent of all cross-gulf passengers extend their visits to include excursions into the Interior. Some 58 percent (188,500) of summer visitors to Fairbanks are on a cruise land tour. Tourism drives the Denali Borough’s economy. The summer season creates 3,656 jobs to service more than half a million visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve. Cruise lines do business with 575 Interior businesses and support 2,500 jobs with a payroll of $95 million. The visitor industry accounts for 10 percent of employment and 6 percent of labor income in the Interior.