SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Visitor Industry Contributes $152 Million in Spending &
1,500 Ketchikan Jobs Study Says

By M.C. Kauffman


December 01, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - According to a recently released economic impact study conducted by the Juneau based McDowell Group, the visitor industry has been one of the few bright spots in Ketchikan's economy in the last few years. The seventeen page study, The Economic and Employment Impacts of the Visitor Industry in Ketchikan, 2004, was commissioned by the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau (KVB) to provide visitor industry specific information on tourism in Ketchikan.

jpg Ketchikan Visitors Bureau

Ketchikan Visitors Bureau
September File Photo by Chris Wilhelm

Quoting the study, "Clearly, growth in the visitor industry has played a critical role in stabilizing Ketchikan's economy following the shut-down of the community's single largest private sector employer, the KPC pulp mill, in 1997." The McDowell Group reported that since the mid-1990s, Ketchikan's population has declined by 12 percent or 1,700 residents primarily as a result of declining timber industry activity. The study noted that although wage and salary employment was up slightly in the past two years, it was reported over 1,000 jobs below the mid-1990s levels.

The economic impact of visitor spending is felt throughout Ketchikan's economy and visitor spending eventually filters through nearly every sector of the local economy according to the study.

Ketchikan's visitor industry employment was reported as 1,150 direct and 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, generating $36 million and $45 million in payroll, respectively. Including direct and indirect employment impacts, the study found the visitor industry accounted for 15 percent of all employment and 10 percent of all labor income in Ketchikan in 2004 with one in seven local jobs directly or indirectly linked to the visitor industry.

Ketchikan's retail sector accounted for the largest amount of visitor industry related employment in 2004 with 600 jobs. Tours and transportation accounted for 350 jobs resulting from the visitor industry, according to the study.

In 2004, a total of 866,882 cruise passengers visited Ketchikan, a 12.5 percent increase over 2003 traffic. The study reported this number to be more than double the number of cruise passengers of ten years ago.

Between May and September of 2004, nearly 34,000 airplane passengers visited Ketchikan for pleasure related purposes. The McDowell Group reported an increase of nearly 6 percent between 2003 and 2004 in airplane passengers visiting Ketchikan.

The study was based on 2004 data as it was the most current data available. The study was conducted during the 2005 tourist season.

Data sources for the study included the McDowell Group's own visitor research program, the Alaska Travelers Survey; cruise line spending data from cruise lines and Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska; tax rate and revenue data from the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough; employment and earnings data from the Department of Labor, and other sources. Also used was an econometric model known as IMPLAN (Impact Analysis For Planning) to aid in determining direct, indirect and induced benefits for the study.

Among the major findings of the report as noted by the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau:

  • Cruise passenger spending topped $111 million in 2004
  • Corporate spending by cruise lines for goods and services such as transportation, accommodations, retail purchases and local taxes exceeded $21 million dollars
  • Cruise ship crew members on shore leave in Ketchikan added an additional $5.7 million dollars in purchases.
  • Air travelers spent $11.6 million while ferry travelers spent $2.9 million.
  • 1150 direct and 1500 direct and indirect jobs are generated by the visitor industry locally, generating $36 million and $45 million in payroll, respectively
  • Of the total amount spent in the community, retail topped the list at almost $76.5 million; followed by tours and transportation, $64.6 million; accommodations $6.3 million and local government $4.8 million.

Contact M.C. Kauffman:


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