Skagway’s ATIA chapter held an event promoting its cause and the municipality. The event was aimed at seasonal workers, and was held on May 12. PHOTO BY DAN FOX

A report recently released by the Alaska Tourism Industry Association (ATIA) shows a total of 1,857,500 out-of-state visitors came to the Last Frontier from May-September 2016.

According to a press release, this statistic marks a four percent increase for the same period from 2015.

Out of the total visitors, 1,025,900 were cruise ship passengers, 747,100 were air visitors (entered and exited the state by air) and 84,500 were visitors via highway or ferry.

According to the release, visitors spent an average of $1,057 per person throughout an average trip in summer 2016.

Reaching a total of $1.97 billion spent in the state last summer, tourist spending was up 31 percent from 2011. This economic growth is representative of an increase in per-person spending as well as the growth in visitor volume, the press release states.

“I think that as we see cruise ships adding more capacity in their vessels and also looking at moving some of their vessels to new itineraries in Alaska, we can expect modest increases in visitation, in cruise ship visitation, to Alaska,” ATIA President Sarah Leonard said in a phone interview.

ATIA is a non-profit, member-based, visitor industry trade association that conducts marketing on behalf of the State of Alaska, with a membership comprised of more than 700 large and small tourism and travel-related businesses throughout the state.

The goal of the group is to promote Alaska as a visitation destination and promote the tourism industry as one of the leading economic forces in the state.

Leonard said ATIA attends trade shows and holds meetings with cruise industry partners to meet with current and new cruise companies and share information about different communities’ ports and infrastructure, new businesses and land excursions, among other things.

“So we are constantly keeping up those relationships to try to recruit new cruise companies and maintain the good relationships we have with the cruise partners that already have itineraries in Alaska,” Leonard said.

Skagway’s local ATIA chapter recently held an event at Alaska 360’s Dredge Town with the goal of making local business owners and seasonal workers aware of the chapter.

For a few years, Skagway’s chapter has not been an active chapter, according to Cody Jennings, Convention and Visitors Bureau director and vice-president for ATIA Skagway. There had been talk about dissolving the chapter, but several folks around town decided to make a push and pick up a bit of momentum to keep the local group up and running.

Skagway ATIA Chapter President Eitan Morse said the May 12 event had a headcount of approximately 300 people.

Jennings said the event met and exceeded expectations.

“It turned out really great,” Jennings said. “This is our first ever hosting of this particular event, and I think we’ll look at doing it again.”

Skagway ATIA has another event coming up late in the summer; the chapter plans to hold a silent auction, the planning for which is just getting under way.

The funds raised would be put back into the community, according to Jennings, through a beautification project, or something along those lines.

“We want to give back to the community that obviously gives so much to tourism,” Jennings said.

For more information about ATIA, visit www.AlaskaTIA.org.