Welcome to the State of Alaska Travel News Bulletin. The tourism office sends this out periodically to keep media up-to-date on Alaska tourism and travel news. Media are invited to call 800-327-9372 www.TravelAlaska.com/media for more information.

April 2, 2012

Just released: The Alaska Visitor Statistics Program Summer 2011 report is now available online at: http://commerce.alaska.gov/ded/dev/toubus/research. The statewide visitor study provides essential visitor volume and survey results including trip purpose, transportation modes, length of stay, destinations, lodging, activities, demographics and more.

In this April Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. Mush with an Iditarod champion
2. Farmers markets a sure sign of spring
3. New brown-bear center opens for travelers
4. Viewing guide highlights Nome wildlife

1. Mush with an Iditarod champion
On March 13, 25-year-old Dallas Seavey passed under the burled arch in Nome, becoming the youngest musher ever to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The recent champ is the third generation of Seaveys to compete in the Iditarod, a family that has been running sled dogs for nearly 50 years. When they’re not competing in races, the Seavey family shares its love of dog mushing with travelers through its company, Ididaride Sled Dog Tours. The Summer Dog Sled Ride tour takes travelers on a 1.5-hour ride to the base of Box Canyon Creek in Seward and includes a tour of the kennel, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the Seavey family’s training structure. The full-day Real Alaska Tour combines a dog sled ride with a Seward city tour and walk to Exit Glacier, located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Lunch and transportation are included. Lastly, the summer Glacier Dog Sledding trip departs from Girdwood by helicopter, traveling to a glacier where guests learn to drive a sled or just sit back and enjoy the ride. All summer tours are available mid-May though mid-September. Visit www.ididaride.com for more information.
Media Contact:
Contact: Danny Seavey, Iditaride Sled Dog Tours
Phone: 907-398-2348
Email: danielseavey@hotmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Ididaride?ref=ts
URL: www.ididaride.com

2. Farmers markets a sure sign of spring
With the increase in daylight, warmer temperatures and the first buds appearing from beneath the snow, Alaskans turn their attention to the fruits of summer. While it may seem strange for the northernmost state to have such a bountiful agricultural scene, Alaska’s summer makes up for its long winter with nearly 24 hours of daylight and rich soil. The return of seasonal farmers markets is one the of the most telltale signs of springtime in Alaska, offering up colossal vegetables, tender fruits and zesty herbs as well as a variety of dairy, meat and seafood. In 2011, Alaska saw the largest growth in the number of farmers markets nationwide, a 46 percent increase. In 2012, 35 markets are expected to operate around the state, including on the Kenai Peninsula and in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, Fairbanks, Haines and many communities in between. A complete list of farmers markets around the state is available at http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/ag_resources.htm. Travelers may notice more menu items branded as “Alaska Grown” at their favorite restaurants. The Alaska Division of Agriculture manages the Alaska Grown initiative to help local farmers market their goods and to develop demand for Alaska agricultural products. Its new Restaurant Rewards program reimburses food-service operators up to 20 percent of the purchase cost of eligible Alaska Grown products. For more information on this and other Alaska Grown programs, visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/index.htm.
Media contact:
Contact: Amy Pettit, Division of Agriculture
Phone: 907-761-3864
Email: amy.pettit@alaska.gov
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dnr.alaskagrown
URL: http://dnr.alaska.gov/ag/


3. New brown-bear center opens for travelers
The Kodiak Brown Bear Center is preparing to launch its introductory season. Located in the heart of the 1.9-million-acre Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, the new destination will place visitors in the middle of one of the densest concentrations of brown bears in the world. The Kodiak Archipelago is home to over 3,500 bears and is where eight of the 10 largest bears ever recorded were found. After traveling from Kodiak via floatplane to the new center, guests will embark on a short boat ride to prime bear habitat and established viewing locations under the careful supervision of experienced guides. Accommodations at the center include comfortable guest cabins equipped with electricity, bathrooms, private decks, telephone, wireless Internet and more. Meals are served at the dining cabin. To minimize the impact and disturbance to the bears in the area, a maximum of six guests are permitted for a four-day, five-day or eight-day stay beginning July 30 and running through Oct. 15, 2012. The center is owned by Koniag, Inc., one of 12 Alaska Native Regional Corporations in Alaska and is managed by its wholly owned subsidiary, Karluk Wilderness Adventures, Inc. For more information, visit the Kodiak Brown Bear Center’s new website at www.kodiakbearcenter.com.
Media contact:
Contact: Ed Ward, Kodiak Brown Bear Center
Phone: 907-433-7900
Email: eward@koniag.com
URL: www.kodiakbearcenter.com

4. Viewing guide highlights Nome wildlife
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game plans to release a new Nome Wildlife Viewing Guide in May, just in time for birders heading to Nome for the spring migration. "Alaska's Nome Area Wildlife Viewing Guide" features beautiful color photographs, natural history information, and safety and travel tips. Though Nome is only accessible by air or sea, once there, visitors can explore 350 miles of roads that wind through the tundra, mountains and coastal plains, prime habitats for birds, musk oxen, reindeer, bear, moose, fox, wolves and more. May and June are the best months to observe the many bird species that nest in the region, including sandhill cranes, whimbrels, emperor geese, gyrfalcon, bluethroat and the elusive and highly-prized bristle-thighed curlew. A complete list of all the Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife guides can be found at www.adfg.alaska.gov. Travelers can purchase the book through Alaska Department of Fish and Game, at www.Amazon.com or at Nome bookstores. For more information on bird watching in Nome, go to www.visitnomealaska.com/nome-bird-watching.html.
Media contact:
Contact: Anne Sutton, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game
Phone: 907-465-5157
Email: anne.sutton@alaska.gov
URL: www.adfg.alaska.gov


Social Media Spotlight 

It's the height of the season for heli skiers and boarders in Alaska. Want to follow the action on Facebook? Here is a list of heli companies and events from around the state:

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