Travel Tuesday: Winter tourism in Anchorage
There's little doubt that summer tourism brings a big boom to the Anchorage economy. Now that snow has fallen and the streets are less crowded, Visit Anchorage is focused on how to bring more people into the city.
Visit Anchorage President and CEO Julie Saupe joined Daybreak on Travel Tuesday, observing that there is a big difference between who visits in the winter as opposed to the summer.
"In the summer 7 percent of visitors are here on business or for a meeting, convention," Saupe said. "In the winter that jumps up to 45 percent (for business). That means there's still 55 percent of our visitors who are here for leisure reasons."
Saupe believes these visitors may be a little more adventurous, looking to experience true Alaskan activities like dog mushing or see the northern lights.
Visit Anchorage continues to market its convention abilities in an effort to build on the 45 percent already coming for those purposes.
"We have a great track record both with in-state meetings and national, (or) regional meetings," Saupe says of off-peak months for Anchorage tourism. "For the leisure traveler we really focus on the time around Iditarod, (Fur) Rondy, late February, early March... when we start getting that fabulous light in Anchorage."
So how much of a draw are springtime events like Iditarod and Fur Rondy? Saupe says over the course of the off-peak season, Anchorage is able to generate 230,000 room nights.
"Certainly Iditarod and Rondy are a big draw," Saupe said. "Numbers are going up. I think our fall season is going longer, so that's great news."
While spring events helps with business, Saupe points to Anchorage's fall season trending longer as having a big impact as well.
"Used to be September 15th, (summer tourists) kind of zipped out," explained Saupe. "Now we're well into the first, second week of October. So that's great."
Saupe says Visit Anchorage has felt the impact of the state cutting the tourism marketing budget, but can't be sure how big an impact.
"The state funding has had a drastic effect statewide," Saupe said. "What we don't know is, had we had full funding during those years (affected by cuts), what our growth would have been."
Saupe says that while local communities statewide would like to see a stronger state presence, individual markets are still seeing growth. That specifically applies to Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks, who benefit from strong marketing campaigns via the cruise industry.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.