Alaska to cap daily cruise visitor count in Juneau



A new agreement between Juneau city and major cruise lines will limit the number of daily cruise passengers who can arrive in the city to 16,000 on Sundays through Fridays, and to 12,000 on Saturdays, effective from 2026. This measure seeks to limit congestion and wear and tear caused by tourists, which escalated to a record 1.6 million visitors last year. The agreement is seen as a way to manage visitor numbers and minimize impacts on residents, while still supporting the local economy, although critics argue it is not sufficient to curb unsustainable levels of tourism.

New Juneau-Cruise Industry Agreement Regulates Tourist Numbers

Cruise lovers keen on exploring Alaska’s capital, Juneau, may need to compete for permission to alight per a new agreement between the city and prominent cruise lines. The agreement, finalized last week, places a daily cap on cruise passengers visiting Juneau. The cap is set at 16,000 from Sunday to Friday and 12,000 on Saturdays and will take effect in 2026.

Protecting Juneau from Over-Tourism

The cap aims to alleviate city congestion and damage that can be caused by tourists. The number of visitors to Juneau rose to a record 1.6 million last year, following a two-year decrease due to the pandemic. Similar measures have been put in place in other tourism hotspots, such as Venice, Italy, which became the world’s first city to charge entry fees on peak days in April.

Keeping Tourism Sustainable

Alaska’s agreement aims to maintain current visitor levels. Juneau Visitor Industry director Alexandra Pierce stated, “The cruise industry is vital to our local economy. This agreement allows us to manage our busiest days and ensure our visitor numbers remain sustainable.” Cruise Lines International Association in Alaska (CLIA) applauded the agreement, terming it “a well-balanced and thoughtful approach.”

Balancing Tourism and Local Impact

Despite the tourism boom, Alaskan residents have voiced concerns about the increase in traffic and noise pollution. However, the city recognizes that many local businesses are reliant on the cruise industry and the tourists it brings. A statement from the city of Juneau acknowledged this fact.

Cruise seasons have also been extended, increasing the tourist presence throughout the year. Under a separate agreement, only five large ships can dock per day during the cruise season.

Future Projects and Criticism

Juneau is planning several projects to lessen the tourists’ impact, including installing a ski area gondola and expanding the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. However, some skeptics like cruise industry critic Karla Hart believes these measures insufficient. Hart proposed a local ballot that would ban large ships from docking on Saturdays or on July 4.

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