Ship has come in for four Alaskan cities

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JUNEAU, Alaska -- Cruise lines and their passengers and crew pumped more than $180 million into the economy of four southeast Alaska communities in 1999, a study shows.

The four communities -- Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Haines -- collected $6.6 million in cruise-related sales tax revenue, according to the study by the McDowell Group, an economic research firm in Juneau.

The largest sales tax recipient was Juneau with more than $2.8 million, followed by Ketchikan with nearly $2.8 million, Sitka with $566,000 and Haines with $437,000.

"The study confirms for us what was already apparent, that the impact of the cruise industry on the economy of the region has increased sharply," said Loren Gerhard, executive director of the Southeast Conference in Juneau, a regional economic development group that commissioned the study.

According to the report, Juneau, Alaska's capital, was the largest beneficiary of the cruise industry, receiving a total of $90 million in overall revenue, followed by Ketchikan with $66 million, Sitka with $14 million and Haines with $10 million.

Cruise passengers by far contributed the most money to the local economies, spending nearly $150 million on everything from food and souvenirs to fishing gear and shore excursions.

Passengers spent most of their money, about $74 million, in Juneau, almost $20 million more than they spent in Ketchikan. Sitka was third at about $12 million, while Haines received almost $9 million from cruise passengers.

The cruise lines spent approximately $22 million in the four communities, while the ship lines' crews spent about $10 million.

Cruise-related jobs numbered nearly 1,600 in the four communities, an increase of approximately 1,000 jobs since 1990. By comparison, jobs in Alaska's traditional industries -- seafood processing, forest products and state and federal government -- declined by 23% since 1990, a loss of nearly 3,000 jobs.

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