Anchorage Businesses Prepare for Booming Visitor Season
Local businesses prepare for more than 1.6 million visitors that are expected to touch down in Alaska this summer.
ANCHORAGE – Alaska’s tourism business is set to bounce back after several years of low numbers, and industry groups said they expect nearly 70,000 additional visitors this season.
The number means big things for local businesses.
Julie Saupe, President of Visit Anchorage, said roughly 50,000 of those people would travel through Anchorage, bringing nearly $50 million in economic impact. She said it’s money spent at hotels, restaurants, tour companies, gift shops, art galleries, vendors and an array of other businesses, spurring growth and further economic development.
“A lot of former small businesses really are moving up and becoming larger businesses, either because small businesses are combining and merging, or because of the growth that we’re seeing in the industry,” she said.
At AK Cruise Connect, Howard Shanks said he’s preparing to add two new buses to his fleet of limousines and tour vans, building his business off the steady demand of the past year. As pre-season bookings continue to come in, he said he might even consider adding a fourth vehicle to accommodate summer crowds.
With more than 1.6 million visitors expected to touch down in Alaska this summer, he said his buses as many as eight trips per day, shuttling tourists between Anchorage, Seward and Whittier.
But he said the growing visitor numbers are providing other business opportunities, too. This season, he said he’s expanding his business to include a baggage storage service for tourists on the go in Downtown Anchorage.
“We can take them right Downtown, store their bags Downtown, they’re in the heart of Downtown,” he said. “They can shop down there, have dinner and tour the whole of Downtown Anchorage, which is a benefit to all.”
While the visitors eventually leave, he said the economic effects remain.