|December 31, 2009
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 January Travel News Bulletin you will find:
1. The 2010 Alaska travel forecast
2. New products and tours
3. New facilities
4. New events for 2010
1. 2010 forecast: What's ahead for Alaska's travel industry?
As 2009 comes to a close, Alaska says goodbye to its 50th anniversary of statehood — a year of festivals, commemorations and extraordinary travel deals — and also to a grim year for business. There’s no denying it was a tough year for the tourism industry nationwide, and Alaska felt the impact as well. Communities throughout the state reported declines in sales tax and bed tax revenues from 7 to 23 percent. Cruise passengers weren’t spending as much as they normally would and all travelers seemed to be tightening their belts on retail, guide services and instate travel.
While 2010 is expected to be another tough summer, signs that the recession is ending are starting to appear. Although airlines cut flights and cruise lines announced plans to send several ships elsewhere in 2010 and 2011, Disney cruises will bring ships to Alaska for the first time in 2010, helping to offset some of the losses. Disney joins Silversea Cruise Line, which is also relatively new to the Alaska cruise market with its first arrival in 2009.
“Because Alaska is a ‘long-haul’ destination, 2009 was very difficult for many Alaska tourism businesses, and 2010 is also expected to be rough because of the decrease in cruise capacity,” said Ron Peck, president and COO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, a membership-based organization that conducts Alaska’s tourism marketing through a contract with the state. “But the good news is that preliminary bookings for independent travel are slightly ahead of last year’s pace.”
Businesses are expected to continue the trend from 2009 by offering enticements to attract visitors, including two-for-one tour offerings, package deals and more. With brand new tours, renovations and expansions to facilities, anniversary celebrations and first-time events, there are more reasons than ever to visit Alaska.
2. New products and tours
- Holland America Line is introducing new 14-day Alaskan Adventurer cruises in 2010, which will sail roundtrip from Seattle and include a port call at Anchorage for the first time in Holland America Line’s history. Holland will also introduce three off-the-beaten-track wilderness itineraries highlighting the Kenai Peninsula, Denali’s backcountry and the Yukon. (www.hollandamerica.com)
- The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is looking for very adventurous fans who want to experience the trail firsthand without driving a dog sled. Travelers spend 15 nights along the trail helping veteran trail crew members and learning about the race and communities along the route. (iditarodblogs.com/news/files/2009/11/sweep-promo.pdf)
- Disney will begin bringing ships to Alaska for the first time in 2010. The seven-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder begins in Vancouver, Canada and travels up the Inside Passage ending in Juneau. Families will discover glaciers, wildlife, Alaska’s gold rush history and more. (disneycruise.disney.go.com/cruises-destinations/alaska-pacific-coast/itineraries/7-night-alaskan-cruise)
- Knik River Lodge is now offering helicopter tours just outside of Anchorage. Tours start at $169 per person and options range from glacier dogsledding, hiking or ice climbing and even remote camping experiences. Adventures that do not include an overnight at the lodge include hotel transfers from Anchorage and a meal at the award-winning restaurant. (www.KnikRiverLodge.com)
- Anchorage-based Salmon Berry Tours’ newest year-round Ice Road Trucker tour includes a visit to the Carlile Trucking terminal in Anchorage, an opportunity to test drive the truck-driving simulator and more. Salmon Berry Tours also offers a variety of customized options, such as multi-day tours to the Arctic Circle, Kenai Peninsula, and more. (www.salmonberrytours.com)
- Experience seven days of Alaska heliskiing in February 2010 with Eric DesLauriers and Chugach Powder Guides to some of the best steep skiing terrain in the world. The new weeklong package includes lodging and transportation, up to 100,000 vertical feet of heliskiing, daily coaching and a professional DVD with video and photos from the trip.
- Photography buffs can learn to capture the northern lights from a pro with a new photography tour from Explore Tours. Guests meet up with renowned aurora photographer Dave Parkhurst in the Mount McKinley basecamp town of Talkeetna for a seven-day viewing tour. Aside from hands-on photography tips, guests can choose from a variety of activities such as flightseeing, dog sledding, skiing, snowmobiling and more.
- Travelers can perfect their pie-making skills with a new weekend package from Talkeetna Roadhouse. The customizable trip includes transport to and from Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad, an overnight stay at Talkeenta Roadhouse, a pie-making class taught by the Roadhouse’s baker, breakfast and of course, a hand-made pie to take home. (www.talkeetnaroadhouse.com)
- Travelers to Fairbanks during the summer of 2010 should be sure and stop by the University of Alaska Museum of the North to witness the special exhibit on climate change, “Then and Now: The Changing Arctic Landscape.”
- Paws for Adventure is offering a new Dinner and Aurora Tour in Fairbanks. The evening begins with a pick up from any Fairbanks hotel and includes dinner at A Taste of Alaska Lodge and a dog sled or guided snowmobile ride in search of the northern lights with a stop at a comfortable yurt for continued viewing.
- Juneau’s oldest operating bed and breakfast, Alaska Wolf House, is now offering several new services to visitors such as sportfishing charters, whale watching and nature photography tours and unguided hunting transport services.
- Alaska Powder Descents has introduced weekend and weeklong ski packages at the Aldersheim Wilderness Lodge near Juneau. Available in March and April, packages include accommodations at the lodge, escorted heliskiing or helisnowboarding, passes to Juneau’s Eaglecrest Ski Area, equipment, guides and more. (www.alaskapowder.com)
- St. Paul Island — located 750 miles west of Anchorage — has five different tours available for the 2010 season (May through October). The Pribilof Islands are a photographer’s paradise boasting a variety of rare birds, a diversity of wildflowers, towering rocky cliffs and dramatic shorelines and is home to the largest Aleut population in the world. (www.stpaultour.com)
3. New facilities
- The remainder of the Anchorage Museum expansion will open in May 2010. With the project, the museum doubles in size and expands its mission to include science and hands-on learning. The anticipated Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and Imaginarium Discovery Center will be unveiled in 2010 as well as the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit Feb 10 – April 25. (www.anchoragemuseum.org)
- Alaska Garden Gate B&B and Cottages is adding nine new cottages to its property for the 2010 season. Located between Palmer and Wasilla with sweeping views of two mountain ranges and a glacier, cottages range from luxury to economy and are ideal for both vacation and extended stays.
- Visitors to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula can expect a quicker commute across Kachemak Bay between Homer and Seldovia in summer 2010 with the addition of an 83-foot fast ferry run by the Seldovia Village Tribe. The two-deck, 150-passenger catamaran, the Kachemak Voyager, is scheduled to make two daily runs between Homer and Seldovia from May to September 2010.
- Alyeska Resort opened its 2009/2010 season with the addition of brand new terrain, extended night skiing, special packages and Alaska’s first superpipe. (www.alyeskaresort.com)
- The Kodiak Harbor Convention Center will have its first full year of operation in 2010. The Center first opened its doors in 2009 and accommodates approximately 350 people and features a scenic location overlooking the harbor with ocean and mountain views, ideal for both large corporate groups and elegant special events.
- The Baranov Museum has recently completed a multi-year preservation effort on its facilities, a National Historic Landmark building in downtown Kodiak. Originally constructed in 1808, the building houses exhibits focusing on southwest Alaska’s Russian era, early American era and territorial period.
- The Northwest Arctic Heritage Center will open in January 2010 in Kotzebue, giving Far North visitors a new destination for information, trip planning and cultural events. The center will serve as the hub for the four park areas in Northwest Alaska: Kobuk Valley National Park, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Noatak National Preserve.
- The addition of the Boat House Cottage to Alaska Beach Cabin’s property offers a unique lodging option to visitors. Located in Juneau’s coveted Indian Cove, this charming boathouse accommodates up to three people and offers stunning views, private balcony, kitchenette and private bath.
- The American Bald Eagle Foundation has been doing work on its facility in Haines, adding a new aviary for live birds that visitors can view beginning in 2010.
- Under new ownership, Pearson’s Pond Luxury Inn in Juneau is making renovations targeted for completion in May 2010 to include an outdoor sauna and new guest kitchen.
4. New events for 2010
- The Inside Passage community of Wrangell will be premiering BearFest in 2010. The event plans to feature a bear symposium, film festival, live music, regional arts fair, photo contest and more. Wrangell is home to the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory and some of the best bear viewing in the state.
- In 2010, some of the world’s most fearless motorcycle riders will compete in the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, traveling 7,000 miles from Key West, Fla. to the western terminus of the U.S. road system in Homer. Competitors are due to arrive in Homer in early July.
- Alaska’s oldest federally designated park, Sitka National Historical Park will turn 100 in March of 2010. Celebration of the 113-acre park will take place throughout the year with a historical photography exhibit, 100th anniversary totem pole and more.