Ketchikan is an attraction all year long — with or without the rain.
This summer — despite the loss of a cruise ship season — the community welcomed visitors.
It’s likely some might have been on cruise ships had the floating hotels docked at the port this season. Perhaps the travelers didn’t see a reason for the novel coronavirus and its effects to cancel their summer vacations.
Other visitors came to visit family, and for family and friends’ summertime events.
Undoubtedly, more than one avid fisher came for an adventure that wasn’t to be denied. Maybe a few others just came for the scenery and the out-of-doors experience.
Whatever the case, their presence was duly noted on the streets of Ketchikan from downtown to the West End. In some of the hotels and stores, too. They stood out as not local.
While their appearance seemed more prevalent this summer because they weren’t lost in the crowds, a winter doesn’t go by that visitors don’t come to see the community in the off season.
And, therein, lies an opportunity.
The cruise ship season is the massive chance for the community to realize financial benefits. But depending only on big business is a mistake. Without the cruise ships, the community is pleased to accommodate even a little business that comes into town. Small business transactions add up to bigger ones.
To have even a small amount of business for the winter compared to what the cruise ships bring would be more than welcome.
And nothing guarantees that the ships won’t encounter another time when docking here isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
In the meantime, Ketchikan could market itself for the off-season — maybe not this year, but in years to come. October’s rains, November-February arts and entertainment and some widely known artists, snow-capped mountains and the chance of a Northern Lights display.
Locally owned shops would be open. The restaurants provide the K-town flavors and atmosphere year round.
Other attractions could be developed as they were for the summers by creative entrepreneurs.
And, most of all, it isn’t crowded in Ketchikan during winter; it would be a chance for visitors to intimately see how the locals live and delve into the Alaska experience.
Ketchikan does sell beyond the cruise industry. This year’s visitors, minus ships’ passengers, prove it.