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.
September 4, 2012

In this September Travel News Bulletin you will find:

1. Icelandair to connect Anchorage with Reykjavik
2. Valdez continues Alaska brewing tradition 
3. Gray whale numbers increase in Alaska's waters
4. Foot races are a fall tradition across Alaska

1. Icelandair to connect Anchorage with Reykjavik
Icelandair will offer seasonal direct flights beginning summer 2013 from Anchorage to Reykjavik, linking travelers in Alaska to Icelandair’s main hub and offering a new route to travel to and from Europe. The bi-weekly seven hour flights will begin in mid-May and continue through mid-September and will also give travelers access to the other non-stop flights offered by the airline to more than 20 destinations in Europe. In addition, Alaska Airlines is providing supporting connections to the Icelandair flights through Anchorage to further promote the new seasonal service. The route will provide a convenient option for European travelers, who account for the bulk of Alaska’s international visitors. In 2011, Europe saw 64,000 of the 154,100 international travelers to Alaska. For more information on Icelandair’s fares and flights, visit www.icelandair.com. To plan a trip to Alaska, visit www.TravelAlaska.com.
Media Contact:
Contact: Dru Fenster, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development
Phone: 907-465-2523
Email: dru.fenster@alaska.gov
Twitter: @AlaskaTravlNews
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alaskatravelnews
URL: www.TravelAlaska.com/media

2. Valdez continues Alaska brewing tradition 
October has long been recognized internationally as the month to honor and enjoy beer. This October, the city of Valdez will host its first Home Brew competition and Oktoberfest celebration on Oct. 19. Brewers from across the state can vie for prizes in five categories, including the Brewer’s Specialty to test creativity and skill. The 2012 event will also include live music, auctions, food stations and the opportunity to sample beers from across the state. The Valdez competition is just one of many Alaska events this fall offering IPAs, ryes, ales and stouts in honor of Alaska’s beers. Get the celebration started at the inaugural Talkeetna Beer Festival hosted by the Denali Arts Council on Sept. 22 or during Alyeska Resort’s annual festival in Girdwood on Sept. 28 and 29. Juneau’s 15th annual Oktoberfest celebration is held September 21-22 from 5-9 p.m. presented by Mt. Roberts Tramway and Alaskan Brewing Company. The event features all-you-can-eat German cuisine, Om-pa music, beer and door prizes. Or board the Alaska Railroad’s Great Alaska Beer Train from Anchorage to Portage and back on Saturday, Oct. 6. There are also a large number of breweries around the state that can be visited year round, including Kenai River Brewing Co. in Soldotna, Kodiak Island Brewing Company in Kodiak, Broken Tooth Brewing in Anchorage, Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau and the newest brewery to join the list, the Seward Brewing Company, just to name a few. For more information on the Valdez October Fest and Home Brew Competition, visit www.valdezalaska.org.
Media Contact:
Contact: Colleen Stephens, Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: 907-835-4731
Email: colleen@stephenscruises.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Valdez-Alaska
URL: www.valdezalaska.org


3. Gray whale numbers increase in Alaska's waters
Recent scientific reports show that more gray whales were spotted this summer off the coast of Alaska than in any other year. The previous record for a full season from July through October was 18 calves, but in July 2012 alone, researchers counted more than 50 calves, according to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. That's good news for travelers who may have whale watching on their Alaska must-see list. While the prime time to view gray whales is in the spring, there are plenty of opportunities to see whales all year round in Alaska, on whale watching boat tours or simply strolling along the coastline. The Southeast community of Sitka celebrates the marine giants with Whalefest, held this year from November 1–4. The event, hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, offers visitors a chance to learn about local marine wildlife through a number of presentations and discussions. The weekend also includes a community celebration with music, art and whale watching trips with some of the nation's best marine mammal scientists serving as guides. For more information on Whalefest, visit www.sitkasoundsciencecenter.org. To plan a trip to Sitka, go to www.sitka.org.   
Media Contact:  Lisa Busch, Sitka Sound Science Center
Phone: 907-747-8878
Email: lbusch@sitkasoundsciencecenter.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sitkawhalefest
URL: www.sitkasoundsciencecenter.org/

4. Foot races are a fall tradition across Alaska
Two of Alaska’s most renowned foot races are celebrating major milestones this fall, with the 30th running of the Klondike International Road Relay starting in Skagway on Sept. 7, and the 50th anniversary of the Equinox Marathon kicking off in Fairbanks on Sept. 15. The Klondike Road Relay takes place along the 176.5-kilometer (109-mile) route of the Klondike Trail, following a path forged more than 100 years ago by gold rush stampeders over the Chilkoot Trail. Each year, an average of more than 1,000 runners compete through the night in the dash to the finish line in Whitehorse, Yukon. In Fairbanks, the University of Alaska’s athletic facility is where Equinox runners embark on the 26.2-mile marathon and 40-mile ultra marathon courses that take them to the top of the Ester Dome and back. 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the Equinox Marathon, for which more than 600 runners are expected at the starting line. For more information on the Equinox Marathon, visit www.equinoxmarathon.org. For details on the Klondike International Road Relay, visit www.klondikeroadrelay.com/race2.
Media Contacts:
Contact: Carlin Donahue, Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: 907-983-2854
Email: carlin_donahue@hotmail.com
Twitter: @Skagway_Alaska
URL: http://skagway.com
Contact: Amy Geiger, Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: 907-459-3775
Email: ageiger@explorefairbanks.com
Twitter: @InsideAlaska
Facebook: www.facebook.com/insidealaska
URL: www.explorefairbanks.com


Social Media Spotlight 

Check out Travel Alaska’s newest Pinterest board “Autumn in Alaska.”  It is easy to show off the beauty of the 49th state with the colorful foliage, the Northern Lights shows and snow-dusted mountains of fall.  http://pinterest.com/visitalaska/autumn-in-alaska/

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