Despite cruise industry woes, Fairbanks is upbeat on tourism

Word that Delta Air Lines is adding new routes to Alaska this summer is boosting hopes that more independent travelers will visit Alaska this summer, as the travel industry seeks to work with both large and small tour operators.

“Of course I’m optimistic about the upcoming summer tourism season, in terms that it will help Fairbanks tourism navigate the long road to recovery,” said Deb Hickok, president and chief executive officer of Explore Fairbanks. “We anticipate a mix of group and independent travel with most likely heavier weighted toward independent as we’ve seen in past recovery of recessions.”

“We have seen an increase in independent and small group travel especially in March and look forward to this trend expanding in the summer months,” she said.

There are several reasons for her optimism, including the fact that an increasing number of people, especially among the older populations, are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and that companies are offering land-based tours this summer.

“In this challenging year for the tourism industry, we are heartened by these bold moves by Delta,” Hickok said.

Delta Air Lines recently announced new and increased service to Alaska for the summer of 2021, with flights to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau operated by larger mainline aircraft. Fairbanks is the gateway to Alaska’s Interior and Denali National Park.

Delta also announced a new daily nonstop flight to and from Salt Lake City and the previously summer-seasonal service to Minneapolis/St. Paul is expected to extend to year-round to provide customers with access to Delta’s global network. “Along with large and small tour operators, we share Delta’s optimism that travelers are ready to branch out farther to destinations with wide open spaces,” said Hickok.

Other air service currently scheduled for Fairbanks this summer includes multiple daily Alaska Airlines flights from Seattle and Anchorage, daily American Airlines flights from Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago, United Airlines daily flights from Denver via Anchorage, Sun Country Airlines weekly flights from Minneapolis, and Condor Airlines weekly flights from Frankfurt.