State to increase funding of Alaska Travel Industry Association

Humpback whale breaching. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Gov. Bill Walker says the state plans to increase funding for the Alaska Travel Industry Association after years of substantial budget cuts.

Walker noted on Oct. 1 that due to the state’s fiscal crisis, ATIA had been operating on a reduced level of opportunity, but did not state a specific amount of increase in funding.

Every dollar spent on tourism promotion in Alaska generates $59 in visitor spending, $21 in income for Alaskans, and $2.84 in state and local revenue, according to state officials.

Re-investing in Alaska tourism marketing comes as visitor interest in traveling to Alaska is on the rise and new international markets, including Asia, are growing. Increasing funding for Alaska tourism means establishing representation in markets where the state has pulled back for the last four years, when ATIA was funded at $16 million.

The Opportunity Alaska: China Trade Mission earlier this year focused on Alaska’s rising appeal to travelers from across the Pacific Ocean. New visitor markets are interested in both the summer and winter seasons, the latter including skiing, snowboarding, hot springs and seeing the aurora.

Pan-Pacific cargo flights are increasing, and direct China-Alaska flights are on the horizon, with growing opportunities to attract travelers from this area, the Walker administration said.

Tourism is the state’s second largest private sector employer after oil and gas, providing 47,000 jobs on top of $2.7 billion in direct visitor spending and $4 billion in total economic activity, state officials said.