State launches $5M tourism ad campaign

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has kicked off a $5 million nationwide campaign to attract visitors to the state this summer, with emphasis on Alaska as a safe destination during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Alaska is a COVID-safe destination,” Dunleavy said. “With us leading the nation in all the important health metrics that count, this campaign will aggressively market Alaska and Alaskans to the rest of the country, that our beautiful state and communities are open for business.”

The governor’s assurance aside, Alaska is not at this point leading the nation in vaccination rates, as the state was doing at one point in January. As of Monday, May 17, information from the Centers for Disease Control showed that Alaska ranked 30th among states and territories for the number of residents per capita who have been vaccinated.

The video, featuring Dunleavy at Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau, was filmed in mid-April. State officials have not commented on whether the video will be updated to correct the misleading information.

The campaign will include $4 million in television ads, $500,000 for radio ads and $500,000 for digital ads for a total of 1,700 spots over six and a half weeks.

Funding for the tourism marketing program came from Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds received by the state and approved by the Legislature for the tourism economic relief plan.

The governor’s office announced the tourism marketing aid plan in mid-April, to boost opportunity for the state’s annual $4.5 billion tourism industry.

The contracts, all on competitive bids, went to Brilliant Media in Anchorage for television, Procaro Communications in Anchorage for radio and Optima Public Relations in Wasilla for digital. Dunleavy aide Corey Allen Young said the state received 11 letters of interest for the advertising campaign, including five from out-of-state firms.

As of Tuesday, May 18, a total of 69,657 people had been infected in Alaska with COVID-19, including 66,867 residents and 2,790 nonresidents. A total of 1,591 people have been hospitalized, and 368 individuals, including 362 residents, have succumbed to the virus.

A total of 47.4% of Alaskans ages 16 and older were fully vaccinated. Efforts to vaccinate more Alaskans were continuing.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said on May 18 that they had determined that the dhss.alaska.gov website was a target of a malware attack and had taken the website offline to prevent further disruption and harm to its servers, systems and databases.