Alaska faces a summer without the income from cruise visitors

In Alaska, the cruise tourism takes a hit. Cruise tourism is on of three main sources of income in Alaska. Photo: Matt Zimmerman / Flickr. 

Alaska was expecting a record 1.4 million cruise visitors – Now it faces a summer with none.

Alaska has been in the midst of a boom in cruise growth. The state was anticipating about 1.4 million cruise visitors during the season that stretches from late April until early October — a record.

“But so far, 99 percent of the projected capacity has been canceled”, says Mike Tibbles, vice president of government and community affairs for Cruise Lines International Association Alaska to the Washington Post.

Tibbles says cancellation of the entire cruise season would result in a loss of about $1 billion in direct spending. Overall, Alaska tourism officials expected 2.2 million total visitors throughout the year.

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Earlier this month, Alaska rolled out requirements for visitors that include negative test results before heading to Alaska, which must be confirmed with a second test after arriving; testing upon arrival; and quarantining until results are known or for 14 days.

Major cruise lines have not yet worked out their plans for safely returning to sea since pausing all operations in mid-March, and a no-sail order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping ships that can carry more than 250 people from sailing through at least July 24.

An industry association recently announced that members would extend cancellations through at least September 15 — close to the end of the cruise season in Alaska.

Ports in Seattle and Canada, where most Alaskan cruise itineraries start, are still closed to cruise traffic. Seattle has given no date for reopening, and Canada has said larger ships are prohibited through the end of October.

A survey the group conducted in May showed that only 27 percent of local companies believed they could endure if it took until spring of 2021 for business to resume.