Anchorage Tourism Jumps in 2012
Best year ever due to conventions, cruises, and coordination
ANCHORAGE - Tourism pays. And according to the Visit Anchorage tourism advocacy group, it pays well.
In its annual "report to the community" today, the tourism body says over $22 million was collected in hotel bed taxes. That’s the best year on record for the city.
That's from nearly 150,000 visitors to the city last year. And the group says bringing conventions and other large business meetings to the city also brought in a lot of money: more than $104 million dollars.
“When you see the folks walking down the streets of Anchorage with the name badges on, that's a great measurement,” said Julie Saupe, the president and CEO of Visit Anchorage. She says 2012 was a record for meeting sin Anchorage, but that’s a rising tide that lifts all ships.
“Our restaurants had a very good year, our hotels had a very good year,” Saupe added. “And just looking at the streets of Anchorage this year, not only were there visitors out there but, one thing I always look for is, are they carrying bags, have they been out shopping while they're here.”
She said Anchorage attracts not just a lot of visitors, but “good” visitors: experienced travelers who come to Alaska as a “bucket list” trip. And those travelers come with full pockets.
“We want not only a lot of visitors, but we want high quality visitors,” she said.
Brandon Renner is the manager at Aurora Fine Art in downtown Anchorage. He said that the push for tourism has helped his shop immensely.
“We have lots of visitors that come through, and it’s a really positive impact for us,” he said.
“Word of mouth is just amazing to me,” he continued. “Many visitors come through each summer and tell me a friend of theirs… was in the gallery, told them they have to come here, and that means we're doing something right.”
Visit Anchorage is pushing to make 2013 an even better year, and to do so they’re advertising in new markets — India and Brazil, for example — and pushing their presence in North America and Europe. And they’re expecting increased cruise ship capacity, which makes Renner happy.
“We now have some cruise ships that are parking our here at the port, and that is really beneficial for our town, and hopefully we get some more of those and we foster that,” he said.
And with new airline routes from Iceland Air, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines, Saupe is also optimistic.
“Alaska has always had an allure,” she said. “And we do our best to make sure Anchorage is seen as a true Alaska destination.”