The People & Economy
The Area & The People
Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage, also known as the Panhandle, stretches about 500 miles from Annette Island in the south, north past the town of Yakutat at the mouth of the Gulf of Alaska. The region is made up over 1100 large and small islands and a swath of mainland, which shares a border with British Columbia. Most of Southeast Alaska, including Juneau, the state capital and the region’s population center, can only be accessed by boat or plane.
Roughly 70,000 people live in Southeast Alaska, which encompasses about 23 million acres, 16.8 million acres of which fall in the Tongass National Forest. Southeast Alaska includes 23 incorporated communities and 21 unincorporated villages, many of which are connected by the Alaska Marine Highway. Residents and visitors alike are drawn to the wealth of fishing, hiking, camping hunting, boating and other outdoor activities found across the region. Three Alaska Native tribes make their home in Southeast Alaska: the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian who have lived off the rich natural bounty of the area for some 10,000 years. Their strong cultural heritage and ties to the land are evident today in their artwork, stories and traditional gathering.
The Industries & The Economy
Major industries in Southeast Alaska include government, fishing and seafood processing and tourism, with education, construction, mining, transportation and forest products also contributing to the regional economy. According to research commissioned by Trout Unlimited, salmon and trout fishing contribute some $1 billion to the regional economy annually and account for more than 7,300 jobs directly or indirectly. Over 80 percent of Southeast Alaska rural residents rely on subsistence hunting, fishing or gathering for dietary and cultural purposes and nearly 90% of rural households in the region use salmon, roughly 66,000 salmon, most of which are sockeye, are harvested for personal use annually and an average of 1 million salmon, mostly coho, are caught by sport anglers each season.
Tourism, especially via cruise ships, is a tremendous growth sector for the region. Some 1.3 million cruise ship passengers are expected to visit this season, more than double the number of cruise ship visitors in 2000. A study conducted by the Alaska Wilderness League in 2014 found tourism generated over $1 billion in economic contribution and over 10,000 jobs in the region annually.
According to research commissioned by Trout Unlimited, salmon and trout fishing contribute some $1 billion to the regional economy annually and account for more than 7,300 jobs directly or indirectly, and over 80 percent of Southeast Alaska rural residents rely on subsistence hunting, fishing or gathering for dietary and cultural purposes