February 2, 2011

Welcome to the Alaska Travel Industry Association (AlaskaTIA) Travel News Bulletin. AlaskaTIA sends this out periodically to keep media up-to-date on Alaska tourism and travel news. Media are invited to call (800) 327-9372 or visit www.TravelAlaska.com/media for more information.

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In this February Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. New zipline tour to open in Skayway
2. Ancient Alaska language receives new voice
3. Birdwatchers gear up for springtime festivals
4. New ways to experience the Last Great Race
5. Top tweets of the month

1. New zipline tour to open in Skayway

A new tour will have travelers zipping above the treetops in Skagway this summer. The four-hour Mammoth Waterfalls and Ultra Zipline Adventure from Alaska Excursions will open on May 6. Guides will meet participants at the cruise dock and transport them on a narrated drive to the historic town of Dyea. After a short safety and equipment orientation, travelers will be able to complete 12 ziplines up to 750 feet long and traverse four adventure sky bridges overlooking various waterfalls and the forest floor. Alaska Excursions also offers dog sled rides through the backcountry of a historic gold rush site and horseback adventures through the Dyea Valley, which features the remains of what was once a city of 10,000 gold stampeders. For more information, visit www.alaskaexcursions.com.

Media information
Contact: Robert Murphy, Alaska Excursions 

Phone: (907) 983-4444
E-mail: office@alaskaexcursions.com
URL: www.alaskaexcursions.com

2. Ancient Alaska language receives new voice

When Chief Marie Smith Jones passed away in 2008, many people thought that the Eyak language was silenced forever. But the indigenous language of Southcentral Alaska was given a new voice through the Eyak Language Project’s new Word of the Week that can be found at http://sites.google.com/site/eyaklanguageproject. The program was launched last month giving site visitors a chance to read, hear and learn to pronounce words from the ancient language. Visitors can learn more about Alaska’s 11 Native cultural groups at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. The cultural center and museum opened a new Athabascan ceremonial house in January 2011, serving as a functional place for gatherings and meetings and to educate visitors about Athabascan history and culture. The building will also be used as an exhibit and location for future language classes. For more information, visit www.AlaskaNative.net.

Media information
Contact: David Farve, Alaska Native Heritage Center

Phone: (907) 339-8055
Twitter: @ANHC
E-mail: dfarve@alaskanative.net
URL: www.alaskanative.net

3. Birdwatchers gear up for springtime festivals

Bears aren’t the only mammals that emerge in Alaska’s springtime, as bird watchers from around the world gear up for some annual birding festivals that are worth the wait. The Stikine River Delta in Alaska’s Inside Passage is a major stop on the Pacific Flyway for over 14,000 snow geese, over 10,000 sandhill cranes and more than 2,000 eagles, the largest springtime concentration of eagles in North America. The community of Wrangell celebrates the return of these feathery attractions with the annual Stikine River Shorebird Festival to be held April 28 through May 1. Wildlife and birding expeditions on the Stikine River anchor the four-day event that began more than a decade ago as the community’s Garnet Festival. For more information, visit www.stikinebirding.org. In Prince William Sound, the tidal flats of the Copper River Delta near Cordova shimmer with the activity of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds each May. Visitors can view the birds and participate in workshops and community events during the 2011 Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, May 5-8, 2011. The Cordova Chamber will have updated information in the coming months at www.cordovachamber.com.

Media information
Contact: Sharon Gaiptman, Alaska’s Rainforest Islands
Phone: (907) 321-0751
E-mail: sgaiptman@yahoo.com

URL: www.alaskarainforestislands.org

Contact: Martin Moe, Cordova Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center
Phone: (907) 424-7260

E-mail: visitcordova@ak.net

URL: www.cordovachamber.com

4. New ways to experience the Last Great Race

With new tours and attractions, there are more ways than ever for visitors to experience the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Overnight adventures with Alaska Backcountry Access take guests by snowmobile to various checkpoints along the 1,150-mile race with overnights at comfortable lodges. After catching the action at the starting line in Anchorage on March 5, travelers can arrive in Nome a few days prior to the top teams crossing the finish line for the party that’s become known as “Mardi Gras of the North.” During Iditarod, the population of this small Gold Rush town triples in size, with hundreds of events including the Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic and other sporting events, a snowmobile race, art show, craft fair and more. This year, a new tour takes visitors on a snow-cat tour 26 miles east to the Safety Roadhouse to watch racers pass through their final checkpoint. Musk oxen are frequent visitors to this area along the Bering Sea/Norton Sound coast. For more information, visit www.beringstraits.com.

Media information
Contact: Andy Morrison, Alaska Backcountry Access, LLC.

Phone: (907) 783-3600

E-mail: andy@akback.com

URL: www.akback.com

Contact: Matt Ganley, Bering Straits Native Corporation

Phone: (907) 632-7197

E-mail: mganley@beringstraits.com

URL: www.beringstraits.com

5. Top tweets of the month

Don’t miss these and other Tweets displaying Alaska news, facts, photos and more by following @Alaskatravlnews on Twitter.

1. Alaskans embrace winter, encourage travelers to do same w/ hands-on activities around state. http://bit.ly/enqghy (via @TopEventsUSA)

2. Via @insidealaska Fairbanks gears up for World Ice Art Championships, a month-long ice sculpting extravaganza: http://ow.ly/3Bks9 #Alaska

3. What’s hot in Juneau this winter? Heli-skiing, XC, ice skating and more: http://conta.cc/gzR13E. #Alaska @VisitJuneau

4. @TheKenai shares some great itinerary options for exploring #Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula: http://dld.bz/EgGu (via @AmericanRoadMag)

5. Snowcat tours to visit final checkpoint of the #Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race now available from Nome in March. http://bit.ly/eEMSIU #Alaska.