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Episode 64: Alaska Tourism — Room to Grow

By KTVA Alaska 6:40 PM July 17, 2016

Alaska’s tourism industry experts say it appears we’re on track for another banner year. They also say the seeds for this year’s success were planted in advertising dollars spent several years ago. Their message: success doesn’t happen overnight.

Alaska has also had a boost from TV reality shows. Although the content is not always authentic, the beautiful images in the backdrop have kept Alaska on the forefront of travelers’ minds.

Social media has also helped. When visitors post images of their trips to Alaska on Facebook, this also helps to grow future tourism.

The big question now for the industry is whether the momentum can continue without continued investment in Alaska tourism, which has fallen off a cliff due to the state’s budget woes.

Gov. Bill Walker recently vetoed $3 million in spending in the state’s tourism marketing program to help offset a $4 billion budget deficit. As a result, the state’s tourism program has seen a drop over the last two years, from $16 million to $1.5 million.

In this week’s Frontiers we look at the future of tourism. Some of the highlights:

  • A trip across the bay from Homer to Halibut Cove, where Marian Beck has worked for more than three decades to turn her restaurant and art galleries into a tourism mecca.
  • Our guests this week: Kelly Bender, who co-owns Lazy Otter Charters in Whittier, and Tanya Carlson from the Alaska Travel Industry Association. They talk about how tourism dollars flow into the economy and lift the bottom line for many other businesses.

We interviewed many tourists for this week’s show, and while we Alaskans know our state is an amazing place, I was struck by how excited they were to be here. For many that we spoke with, this was their second or third trip to Alaska, or if it was their first, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

We hope this program gives you an appreciation for an industry that appears to have room to grow.

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