Navigating the new normal: Is a Ketchikan economy without cruise ships still a viable economy?

Norwegian Cruise Lines in Ketchikan Alaska
Norwegian Cruise Lines in Ketchikan Alaska

In Ketchikan, sales tax and transient occupancy tax account for 36% of the Ketchikan Gateway Boroughs revenue — revenue that supports public schools, public health, first responders, utilities and roads to name a few. In a town that typically hosts one million cruise ship passengers each season, one might ask if Ketchikan can survive without them.

Abby Bradberry wants to know. She’s running for Ketchikan City Council and asking businesses owners who live in the greater Ketchikan area how she can support them. At the Cape Fox Lodge last night she demonstrated her solid understanding of the cruise ship industry and economic issues regarding the management of ports and harbors. Her ideas were well received.

“Overall, the response to the first round table was great!  I gathered more knowledge of various concerns and solutions to work through.  If I am elected, I want to continue these meetings to allow for all citizens to bring not only concerns but solutions to the table,: said Bradberry.

I am running for City Council to encourage involvement from younger generations and to address: proper balance of community and tourism, diversification of our economy, affordable cost of living, and to support the needs of citizens and businesses.

Abby Bradberry

The City of Ketchikan and Ketchikan Gateway Borough 2020 municipal elections will be held October 6. There are four vacant seats for Council (three-year terms, currently held by Dick Coose, Dave Kiffer and Mark Flora and a two-year term, currently held by Emily Chapel). Contender Jai Mahtani is also looking to get a seat at the table.

Jai owns and operates the Gold Rush, a business he founded 25 years ago. Due to the cruise ship travel ban, sales are the lowest he’s seen. But his spirits are high, he’s optimistic. He’s fighting for better management of ports and harbors and a thriving tourism economy.

I am running for City Council, and humbly request your support, and I am committed in the quest to bring a year-round economy that is consistent with the Ketchikan we all know and love.

Jai Mahtani

In addition to the Gold Rush located at 54 Front Street, there are a couple jewelry stores that also remain open year round; Orca Jewels and Julie’s. The others are owned by the cruise ship companies and temporarily close in the off season (aka winter months).

About the Author

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Hi I’m Nadra Angerman — born in Ketchikan and raised Wrangell. I studied, worked and lived in the Lower 48 for twenty-five years before returning to Alaska. I write about natural resources, economic development and the entrepreneurial spirit. My husband, daughter and I are co-owners of Chinook Shores Lodge, The Inn at Knudson Cove and Pier 25 Boathouse in Ketchikan.

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