Don’t Forget About Destination Marketing

As a tourism business owner, whether you are a guide or customer service agent, you might not wake up thinking: What’s happening with Alaska’s tourism marketing program? The summer season is in full swing, the fish are starting to come in, and visitors are arriving in communities across the state. That’s good news for businesses and places that rely on Alaska’s visitors for revenue to fill cash registers as well as government bank accounts. Alaska has seen record numbers of visitors choose to visit our state over many other competing destinations. In part, this is a result of past reinvestment of tourism generated dollars in a statewide marketing program. The results are measured in $100 million to the state, over 40,000 jobs created and over 4 billion in economic activity.

Alaska continues to need a competitive tourism marketing budget to keep visitors choosing our destination. We risk losing market share when other destinations increase their budgets as ours decreases. States that don’t prioritize tourism marketing have lost market share to competitors that can take years to recover. Destinations continuing to invest in travel promotion see those returns in tax revenue, jobs and business growth. With continued strategic investment in Alaska tourism marketing we can enhance the cycle of increased visitation, traveler spending in communities, job creation and tax revenue for state government.

More than a year ago, tourism industry leaders started talking about shaping a more reliable funding plan for destination marketing based on national Tourism Improvement District (TID) models. The TID model provides a self-assessment framework, a mix of current and new revenue and is focused on visitors with less impact to residents. The ATIA team has talked with many of you in communities around Alaska about what a TID model might look like for Alaska. Senate Bill (SB) 110 was introduced in early April which, if passed, would establish a framework for an Alaska TID. An Alaska TID with assessments from industry, would provide a more stable funding situation for marketing Alaska tourism.

ATIA is looking to industry to help create a successful plan forward: Where industry generates funds and guides a more competitive statewide destination marketing program. The alternative is Alaska is left behind as the global travel and tourism industry grows, with or without us. Please feel free to email me at Sleonard@alaskatia.org with questions and feedback.

Alaska State Legislature

The 2nd Special Session of the 30th Alaska Legislature is almost finished. The House and Senate passed the operating (HB57) and the Governor signed it into law averting a government shut-down.

The capital budget has not been addressed, along with the suite of revenue measures under discussion this year (POMV, motor fuel tax, a broad-based tax, spending limit). $3 million allocated for tourism marketing is in the proposed budget. ATIA is monitoring activities in Juneau and continuing discussion and gathering feedback from industry on an Alaska Tourism Improvement District (TID ).