Eagle is facing a bleak tourism future. Holland America has decided to eliminate the historic Yukon River community at the end of the Taylor Highway from its summer tour route. For over 20 years the tour company brought in excess of 200 tourists a day through Eagle, generating substantial income for the remote community, that otherwise doesn’t see much traffic. Spring flooding in 2009, followed by Taylor Highway slides and washouts the next year, kept Holland. America out. The company delayed returning last year, and spokesman Erik Elvejord says they’ve decided to permanently cut Eagle from their Alaska and Yukon tours.
Eagle residents got news of Holland America’s pull out last week, just as the Taylor Highway opened for the summer, a year after nearly $20 million in repairs. Eagle historical society and museum director Donna Westphal says Holland America’s move is a major hit.
Westphal says the non-profit museum organization is running about 25 to 30 thousand dollars under budget, has cut four staff positions, and she’s worried about losing her job. The lack of tourists has also eliminated summer tour guide jobs for Eagle teens, and business for a group of locals who sell arts and crafts in downtown Eagle. Another familiar part of Holland America’s presence in Eagle is also missing. The luxury catamaran tour boat, the Yukon Queen, which used to make daily runs between Eagle and Dawson, will remain dry docked in Dawson until the company decides what to do with it. The Eagle Historical society and Museum board met this week to talk about ways of spurring new tourism.
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