Ketchikan, Alaska (KINY) - The Inter-Island Ferry Authority, a public ferry system providing daily service between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan, has released a study showing that the ferry system was responsible for $46.4 million in economic activity in southern Southeast Alaska last year.
The 12-page publication, compiled by Rain Coast Data, shows that the IFA provides a high rate of return on investment.
In 2019, the system generated $70 in economic activity for each dollar of State investment. Economic activity was measured in five areas: tourism, seafood, medical access, retail trade, and spending by the IFA – and includes direct and secondary impacts.
“We are both honored and humbled by the huge impacts that our reliable, daily ferry service has on our economy. We wanted to be able to share and communicate the value of the role that we play,” explains Ron Curtis General Manager of the Inter-Island Ferry Authority. “This publication concisely describes and calculates the economic and social impacts of IFA ferry service between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan.”
Prince of Wales residents who ride the ferry spend millions of dollars in Ketchikan each year. IFA riders spent $8 million on goods and services in Ketchikan (not counting the millions spent in the health care sector). The IFA itself spent an additional $1 million. In tourism, seafood, health care, transportation and $19 million in associated workforce earnings on Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan are dependent on the IFA when the multiplier effect is included.
The Inter-Island Ferry Authority is a public transit system that has been providing daily service between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska since 2002. In 2019, the IFA ferried 44,200 passengers and 10,000 vehicles between Hollis and Ketchikan. The system is more than a form of transportation, it is an economic engine, generating jobs and commerce, while also increasing community well-being.
A full economic impact analysis of ferry system activities in the tourism, seafood, health care, and retail sectors shows that the ferry generated $46.4 million in economic activity and supported 508 jobs in Ketchikan and Prince of Wales in 2019, including multiplier effects.
In 2019, the IFA brought 2,900 tourists to Prince of Wales Island, where they spent more than $11 million on lodging, fishing, hunting, and dining - generating jobs across the island. Ferry service allowed the seafood industry to move two million pounds of high-quality, fresh and live seafood, valued at $10 million, to market.
The ferry system provided $9 million worth of access to health care for island residents who rely on medical services available in Ketchikan. The IFA reinforced Ketchikan’s status as a regional economic hub, with Prince of Wales residents and the IFA system spending $9 million there last year on groceries, goods, services, and ship repairs.