Tiny Skagway, Alaska, population 910, gets ready for the annual influx of visitors, numbering over 1,000,000, or more than 1,000 for every man woman and child in the town. (Not all at once, but in the 100 day visitor season).
Most of the visitors arrive by cruise ship. In total 30 ships will stop by 423 times bringing 800,000 visitors plus crews. Skagway is 16th most visited cruise destination in the world. The other visitors arrive mostly from Canada by automobile, bus or train (from Carcross).
There are few visitors to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and White Pass and Chilkoot Trails. Most will visit Skagway’s historical district of about 100 buildings from the gold rush era. Most of the historic buildings are shops catering to tourists, selling t-shirts, trinkets, jewelery, souvenirs and such.
The White Pass and Yukon Route operates its narrow-gauge train in Skagway during the summer months, carrying 400,000 passengers. The Canadian owned railway offers a summit excursion, trips to Bennett, BC or Carcross, Yukon.
Skagway has 5 churches, 1 library, and 1 financial institution. There are approximately 250 hotel/motel rooms in 11 facilities, ranging from modern to historic, including 3 bed & breakfasts, 1 home hostel and 2 cabin-style lodges. Some of these businesses are open year round. Parking is available during the summer for over 300 recreational vehicles, in addition to numerous tent camping sites.
The town had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state in March, 21.8%, compared to 19% a year earlier. Before the influx of tourists there are few jobs for Skagway residents.
Skagway gets busy with two or three cruise ships in dock. The massive influx of visitors provides the base of economic prosperity for the town. The extreme influx means a very busy summer for locals and lots of job opportunities for others from the lower 48. In the months from October to April the tourists leave and unemployment climbs.