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Posted 31 May 2012 | Add new comment
Nestled in the northern half of Chichagof Island of southeast Alaska, the city of Hoonah is a historical gem with a rich Native American influence and breathtaking scenery. Hoonah, a small community of approximately 850 residents, faced economic hardship when the timber industry declined in the 1990s. Hopes for steady employment were dim and the city’s population dropped. However, in 2004, the city’s economic outlook became brighter with the addition of a cruise ship port just one-and-a-half miles away at Icy Strait Point. Tourism became a major economic source and Icy Strait Point is now Hoonah’s largest employer and hosts ships from major cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Holland America.
To build upon this economic source, a multiple-use, deep-water berthing facility and cruise ship port near Cannery Point in Hoonah is planned for completion in 2014 by the Huna Totem Corporation. The expected economic benefits include generating a total of 60 to 80 jobs in addition to an increase in the number of cruise ship passengers who visit Hoonah for shore excursions, shopping, and dining. Since the birth of the cruise ship terminal at Icy Strait Point, total annual sales tax revenues to the City have more than doubled, and this increase is mainly due to Icy Strait Point. For example, in 2009, Icy Strait Point made $327,000 in sales tax payments to the City, which is equal to approximately 60 percent of all sales tax revenues earned by the City. In addition, since 2007, the City of Hoonah has received between $359,000 and $640,000 annually from the state head tax on cruise ship passengers.
Both the City of Hoonah and travelers from all parts of the country will enjoy the rugged and unique beauty of Alaska. Onshore activities include bear and whale watching, riding on the largest zipline in the world, bicycling, and fishing. Visitors will also get a glimpse into a historically rich Native American culture with Native American dance performances. When the facility is not serving cruise ships, it will provide docking for other vessels, including U.S. Coast Guard ships, Alaska Marine Highway System ferries, and large yachts.