Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have joined forces to donate $1 million to the University of Alaska Foundation. The gift will provide funding in three main areas: research and education critical to the health of the sea; training programs that prepare Alaskans for the tourism and hospitality industry; and scholarships that support Alaskans seeking higher education at the University of Alaska.

“This very thoughtful gift is a shining example of how a major private industry in Alaska and the University of Alaska can work together as partners for the benefit of Alaskans across the state,” said University of Alaska President Pat Gamble. “The reach of this donation is impressive and will leave an indelible mark on the lives of many UA researchers and students.”

Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, the two largest tour operators in Alaska, approached the University this spring with a desire to collaborate with the Foundation in a way that bolstered the state’s tourism industry. Together, the two lines employ nearly 3,500 people during the summer season and support more than 1,000 businesses in Alaska.

While details are still being solidified, the $1 million commitment by the cruise lines will fund several areas including an oceanographic research vessel, marine education, a renovation of the current culinary and hospitality training facilities, and scholarships aimed at those wishing to pursue technical, business, and hospitality degrees.

The donation builds upon previous gifts by both cruise lines.  In 2009, Princess Cruises donated $100,000 to the university’s Marine Advisory Program (MAP). The gift provided salary and administrative support for MAP agents to help coastal residents use, conserve, and manage ocean resources that often provide the economic backbone of Alaska’s coastal towns and villages.

“Princess Cruises is dedicated to environmental stewardship worldwide, and in particular, in Alaska,” said Alan Buckelew, President and CEO, Princess Cruises.  “This investment reflects our diligence on both land and sea in the more than 40 years of operating in the state.”

In the early 1990s, Holland America Line donated $15,000 as seed money for a study that showed the need for a Culinary Arts & Hospitality program to support Alaska’s burgeoning tourism business. Currently the program graduates an average of 40 students per academic year, but the industry could easily absorb double the amount, according to an Alaska Department of Labor forecast study in 2012.

Since then, Holland America Line has donated more than $1 million to the University of Alaska to support various programs, including culinary arts and hospitality, food service, tourism education and the Museum of the North.

“We are pleased to join in providing this gift to the University of Alaska Foundation to help fund environmental, tourism and hospitality studies,” said Stein Kruse, President and CEO, Holland America Line. “Tourism is Alaska’s third largest economic driver, so it is very important to support the development of talent that will help us meet the workforce needs of the future.”

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell made the announcement and officiated the check presentation today at the Anchorage Downtown Rotary luncheon meeting.

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