Alaska tourism rates at an all-time high last summer

(Graphic from the Alaska Travel Industry Association)

2016 was a record year for Alaska tourism.

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According to a report from the Alaska Tourism Industry Association, the state had 1,857,500 visitors last summer — that reflects a four percent increase since the previous year and the highest amount on record.

Over a million of those visitors came by cruise ship, but air travel to Alaska increased by 6 percent, according to the ATIA report — contributing a large part to the tourism bump.

ATIA president Sarah Leonard said there were several things that contributed to the increased numbers.

“We’ve talked about with low fuel prices, that road highway travel saw an increase over the past year,” Leonard said. “And we know and we’ve been supporting the ferry system and working out a more sustainable schedule and a more sustainable way of operating.”

Leonard pointed out that the per-person spending amount of each visit was up for 2016 but she’s not totally optimistic the positive tourism trend will continue.

She cited decreased marketing budgets from the state of Alaska as a main cause for concern.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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