What others say: A good thing going

  • Wednesday, February 17, 2016 6:05pm
  • Opinion

Any Southeast Alaskan appreciates those rainy day moments when a ray of sunshine pierces the cloud cover.

We stop in our tracks to absorb the sudden warmth, gaze into the blue sky beyond and are reminded that life here comes in many lovely colors besides gray.

That’s what Thursday’s news about visitorship to Alaska feels like after hearing months of dark reports about state budget deficits, revenue shortfalls, oil patch cutback and the possibility of a state economy in recession. The fact that 1.78 million out-of-state people visited Alaska between May and September of 2015 — the most since the tracking program began in 1985 — is a bolt of sunshine reminding us that there are positive economic things happening in Alaska.

According to the Alaska Visitor Statistics Program VI Interim Visitor Volume Report, summer visitorship in 2015 wasn’t just a tiny increase over the previous year — it was a whopping 7 percent above the same period in 2014.

Cruise passenger volume increased by 3 percent. Air traffic grew by 13 percent.

“Strong increases were seen in personal vehicle traffic on all four highways connecting Alaska with Canada,” according to the state Division of Economic Development announcement.

The only downside, which is a big one for Southeast Alaska, is that ferry passenger traffic leaving Alaska declined by 12 percent.

“The decline in ferry volume is largely attributable to ship repair and schedule changes,” according to the announcement.

Overall, a record-setting visitor year is good economic news for the entire state, as well as right here in Ketchikan where we see the positive economic effects from the visitor industry and are looking forward to another strong visitor season in 2016.

While we hear the very real numbers of state budget deficits and other economic issues facing Alaska, it’s good to know we have an industry that continues to contribute a reported annual economic impact of $3.9 billion and employment of 46,000 people during the peak season.

We should continue to support the industry in reasonable ways. And, it’s important that we address the things that can be improved upon, such as the reliability issues that negatively affected the Alaska Marine Highway System in 2015.

We’ve got a good thing going, and news of a record-breaking 2015 is a bolt of sunshine on an otherwise very gray day.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

Feb. 12

More in Opinion

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…