As the air gets colder and the days shorter, the Skagway tourism season is coming to a close. Overall, tourism staff says this summer was a success.
The last cruise ship of the season has come and gone and shop owners around Skagway are preparing for winter, cleaning up and closing their doors. The streets that were recently busy with visitors are quieting down.
“Overall I think our 2016 season went remarkably well,” says Cody Jennings, Skagway’s Tourism Director. “From the feedback that I’ve had from local business owners and tour operators, everybody is really pleased with the season.”
Skagway saw the biggest ship it’s ever seen this summer. The Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas made weekly visits to town, and holds just over 4,000 passengers at capacity. Jennings says the new addition was a success.
“It went really great,” says Jennings. “I think it was a great addition to the mix of ships that we get here, everybody seemed to enjoy it.”
The summer was not without its challenges. One day in September two ships couldn’t dock due to high winds. The Crown Princess holds just over 3,000 passengers, the Nieuw Amsterdam around 2,000.
“And all-in-all while that was unfortunate I think all-in-all that was really the only sort of hiccup that we had during the season,” says Jennings.
There was also some concern going into the season about the exchange rate for Canadian tourists. The slumping Canadian Dollar is about $0.76 against the stronger U.S. currency. But Jennings says it doesn’t seem to have been a problem.
“From the feedback that I’ve received for example from hoteliers and the restaurants and stuff, obviously being on the border we get a fair amount of travelers just from our Canadian neighbors,” says Jennings. “But really we didn’t see much of an impact. Even in the RV parks. My understanding is the long weekends that they came down the continued to do so despite the dollar difference.”
Jennings says Skagway continues to have a lot to offer visitors.
“They come into this community and they see the effort that’s made in maintaining our downtown historic district,” says Jennings. “It’s incredibly charming and one of the things that we see often in our comment cards here is that the staff and community members are incredibly friendly. So I think that leaves an impression on our visitors and definitely one we want to leave.”
She won’t have hard statistics on tourism dollars and numbers of visitors until later this year. The town anticipated 800,000 cruise ship visitors and 125,000 non-cruise ship travelers. With the last cruise ship gone, Jennings is confident it was a strong season.