(Photo by Corey Brown: The Kennicott is towed by the Ethan B. for routine maintenance in this recent snapshot in Ketchikan.)
As of Thursday evening, the total refunded Alaska Marine Highway fares reached $1.2 million for some 3,000 stranded ferry passengers. The lost fares include passage of 700 cars on the ferries during the peak of tourism season.
Some portion of this will get funneled back into the economy as air fare and payments to other alternate carriers, as people try to navigate their way around the region.
Some of it — those fares originating in Bellingham, for example — may be lost to the economy as families cancel their trips to Alaska. Other fares are
“People will never trust the ferry system again, said one ferry critic in Juneau. “If this is our highway, then these are bandits, putting up a blockade on our highway.”
While the tourism effect of the lost independent traveler sector is unknown, overall Alaska cruise capacity is up more than 15 percent in 2019, with another rise expected in 2020.
Over 1.2 million cruise passengers are heading to Alaska this year. It’s the second record-breaking year since the tourism head tax was rolled back by the Alaska Legislature in 2011.