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Episode 67: Discovering Alaska

By KTVA Alaska 11:24 AM August 8, 2016

In a few weeks, those leviathan RV’s will no longer cause traffic bottlenecks on the Seward Highway. As we approach Labor Day business will begin to taper off in the shops, which cater to tourists – and Alaskans will breathe a collective sigh of relief, glad to have their money, but also glad to see them gone.

In a few months, we’ll find out whether the “Summer of 2016” lived up to predictions that it would be a banner tourism year. Industry experts say this season’s numbers will be a predictor of future visits because from each crop of tourists, we see a lot of repeat business.

So in a way, tourism is the gift that keeps on giving. As long as visitors feel there’s something new to discover in our state, it stokes their desire to return.

This week on Frontiers, we look at some of the efforts, big and small, that keep them coming.

Here are some of the highlights:

-We take you to Kodiak, where efforts are underway to grow the tourism industry across the entire island. The demand for new destinations is there, but some communities are not so sure they’d like to see strangers wandering past their homes on a regular basis.

-Our guest this week is Laurel Downing Bill, author of the “Aunt Phil’s Trunk” historical series. Every summer weekend, you’ll find her at the downtown Anchorage market in her cheerful booth, festooned with antique lace and a backdrop of period pieces. Her mission? To sell her books. But in the process, she and other writers at the market also serve as unofficial tourism ambassadors. In this Frontiers web extra, watch this extended interview with Laurel Downing Bill.

-We will also go behind the scenes at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s bear viewing exhibit, a popular segment we ran earlier this summer. For visitors with a limited number of days in Alaska, the chances of seeing a bear – up close and personal – are pretty good.

When it comes down to it, I suspect a lot of growth that we see in tourism, comes down to the beauty of our state and the authenticity of Alaskans.

When visitors take home a Dan Seavey book about the first Iditarod, signed by the mushing legend himself, it’s a reminder that Alaska is still a mother lode of larger- than-life characters and the birthplace of many great adventures.

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