SEAGO is pleased to share some positive updates on fishing and tourism opportunities in Southeast Alaska after a rough few months.  Executive Director Samantha Weinstein attended this week’s Southeast Conference Mid-Session Summit in Juneau, to hear updates from industries vital to the Southeast economy.  Governor Bill Walker gave the opening address, making a specific note on the projected increase in Asian visitors thanks to last summer’s visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Topics covered at the conference included maritime and fisheries, energy, timber, mining, and general economic development.  Most interesting for our charter captains and guides was Wednesday’s panel on the Southeast visitor industry, notably the presentation by John Binkley, President of Cruise Lines International Association of Alaska.

Let’s start with Mr. Binkley’s breakdown of the 2017 visitor season:

  • Passengers, cruise lines, and crew spent nearly $1 billion Statewide – that’s $6.5 million per day for 150 days
    • Municipal revenues from visitors totaled $82.9 million
    • State revenues from visitors totaled $104.8 million
  • Skagway’s number of visitors has increased 47.6% since 2011
  • Ketchikan’s number of visitors has increased 38.4% since 2011
  • Visitor spending in Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau has gone up approximately $50 million since 2011
  • 93% of Juneau visitors arrived by cruise ship, a total of 1,089,700 passengers
    • Juneau cruise ship passengers spent $176.6 million taxable dollars
    • Juneau Alaska Airlines arrivals spent $44.4 million taxable dollars

Looking forward:

  • 2018 is projected to be another record-breaking year, with an anticipated 7% growth in Alaska cruise ship visitors (1,165,500 visitors)
  • The FIRST PUBLIC RELEASE of 2019 preliminary projections show a 12% growth in Alaska cruise ship visitor numbers from the projections for 2018 (1,310,000 visitors)
    • This is thanks to new ships entering the market between now and 2026, as well as new cruise providers visiting Southeast
  • The projected economic impact of this growth is a $137.5 million increase in taxable passenger spending, as well as a $7.6 million increase in passenger entry fees for a projected total fee collection of $45.2 million.

(see the full presentation HERE)

What does this mean for guided sport fishing?

More opportunities.

Some of you may already be in contact with cruise ship operators traveling through your town each season.  For those of you dedicating blocks of time to those ships, it is important to note the new companies traveling through Alaska for the first time when considering future marketing opportunities.  If your company has a business model which does not work with cruise ship schedules, these next few years may be a good time to review this decision.  While many passengers consider visits to Alaska as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, others are struck by a love for our scenic beauty and plan future visits.  These return visitors are often adventurers and sport anglers – in other words, future guided anglers and multi-day lodge visitors.

The Southeast Alaska Tourism Council’s Liz Perry also spoke at the conference.  The Tourism Council is a cooperative marketing organization for Southeast’s Inside Passage, working with the convention and visitor’s bureaus of Skagway, Haines, Yakutat, Gustavus, Sitka, Wrangell, Petersburg, Ketchikan, and Juneau.  Its design is to strengthen the Southeast brand image in the visitor marketplace and strengthen brand unity between communities.  If you are not familiar with this marketing opportunity, we encourage you to take a look at their website and talk to your local visitor’s bureau for more information.