by Lacey Pfalz
Last updated: 9:52 AM ET, Tue July 27, 2021
Royal Caribbean and the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) Foundation have partnered together to help over 65 businesses and nonprofits across Alaska, including local businesses that rely on tourism and nonprofits like the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
The ATIA Foundation is giving more than $745,000, provided to them by Royal Caribbean Group, to these businesses and nonprofits. Recipients include Sitka Bike and Hike, Chilkat River Adventures, Sunshine Station Child Care and Huna Heritage Foundation.
The grant recipients can receive $3,000 to $75,000 in support between now and November, which can be used for critical needs, like staffing or equipment.
"Alaskans are known for coming to the aid of their neighbors and we understood the importance of being there for the community in a time of need," said Wendy Lindskoog, Royal Caribbean Group's associate vice president of Government Relations, Alaska. "Even as we start up cruising in July, a partial season cannot make up for the losses over the last 16 months. We knew we had to find the resources to help local businesses and nonprofits supporting the well-being of Alaskans."
Alaska relies heavily on cruise tourism, which makes up about 60 percent of all tourism in the state. Cruise tourism fell from 1.33 million in 2019 to zero in 2020, while the tourism industry as a whole lost $2.2 billion in revenue. Its repercussions were felt the most in businesses across the state, with 27,800 jobs lost and 24 percent of businesses closing completely, according to a report by the ATIA Foundation. These grants will help some businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic long enough to restart operations as cruise tourism continues to reopen in the state.
The restart to cruise tourism in Alaska was a long time in coming. American Cruise Lines' American Constellation was the first small-ship to port in Haines in late June, while Royal's Serenade of the Seas was the first big cruise ship to begin sailing in a year and a half, beginning its first cruise in mid-July. The cruise ship is operating with 97 percent fully vaccinated passengers and crew.
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