When people think about visiting Alaska, they want to see mountains, glaciers, and wildlife. Good enough. Which mountains? How do they get to close to a glacier safely, or where can they view bears? What else is there to see and do?
This is where Alaska's convention and visitors bureaus come in.
"First and foremost, our mission is to attract visitors to our region, our city, and our state," says Jack Bonney, public relations manager for Visit Anchorage. "We're trying to reach more travelers early in the decision-making process. We want them to spend more time in Anchorage. We want to wow them with all the things to do here."
Visit Anchorage, formerly called the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, was created in 1975 to help stimulate tourism growth and diversify Alaska's economy. It is funded primarily through Anchorage's bed tax and receives no state or federal funds. Visit Anchorage, along with Explore Fairbanks (formerly called the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau (Juneau CVB), and numerous smaller similar organizations throughout the state, are integral pieces of one of Alaska's largest industries: tourism.
Between May 2011 and April 2012, more than 1.82 million people visited Alaska, accounting for an economic impact of $3.72 billion and forty-five thousand jobs at peak season, according to a study published in February 2013 by the McDowell Group, Inc. for the Alaska Division of Economic Development.
Southeast Alaska saw about 1.06 million cruise ship visitors in that time period, and about half of visitors spend time in Anchorage. About four hundred thousand travelers venture up to Fairbanks.
The average visitor spent $948, not counting transportation to and from the state. Cruise visitors spent less, about $632 per person, but make up a larger piece of the Southeast Alaska economy.
The primary goal of the visitor bureaus is to boost their local economies by attracting travelers and lengthening their stay, which helps both local businesses, through consumer spending, and communities, through bed tax payments.
"Our mission is to market and enhance Juneau so people want to come here and stay for several days," says Nancy Woizeschke, president and CEO of the Juneau CVB.
"Most of the iconic things that most people think about Alaska are very close by in Juneau," Woizeschke says. "In a few minutes, you can go from salmon fishing in the ocean to hiking at the top of a mountain. Bears, whales, icebergs ... you can see everything that's spectacular about Alaska."
Getting the word out about what Alaska has to offer--as well as when, where, how, and how much--is a...