Cruise ship passenger traffic rose an estimated 16%, according to preliminary numbers announced Tuesday by the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

The preliminary numbers cover May through August and represent a “boom for Alaska’s tourism industry this summer,” said ATIA President and CEO Sarah Leonard.

Leonard shared the numbers at ATIA’s annual convention in Juneau’s Centennial Hall. The early numbers typically get updated with more details and associated economic impacts in early winter.

Leonard added visitor traffic on domestic flights rose nearly 4%, though the increase represents resident and visitor travel. Still, she links it to the cruise ship passenger growth.

“Alaska's a safe and exotic destination,” she said. “We have so much to offer a number of visitors that I think Alaska benefits from that. It’s an easy state to promote.”

Cruise ship passengers represent more than half of summertime visitors.

Last week the final cruise ship plied Southeast waters, including a stop in Juneau. Travel Juneau President and CEO Liz Perry estimates nearly 1.3 million people visited Juneau off cruiseships.

Leonard said international flight arrivals are down about 11%, but added September numbers and wintertime also bring dedicated international traffic.

“We also see an increase in the interest in winter tourism activities,” she said. “Many of our businesses are looking at different experiences that they can incorporate into their business to offer that winter traveler.”

Leonard said passenger travel on the Alaska Marine Highway System fell close to 24% in the strike interrupted summer.

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