JUNEAU, Alaska -- Nearly half of Alaska's tourism-related
businesses were impacted by a decline in tourists to the state this
summer, the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) here
That assessment comes from a statewide survey of 315
tourism-related businesses, which the ATIA said revealed that
Alaska tourism's slow but steady growth over the past few years
came to a halt this summer.
The survey was commissioned by the ATIA and conducted by the
McDowell Group of Juneau and Anchorage in late September. It found
that some sectors of the industry saw increases while others were
in sharp decline, rendering overall zero growth in 2002.
Eric McDowell, partner of the statewide research firm, presented
the findings to the ATIA annual convention here last week.
McDowell said that in 1990, summer visitors totaled 690,100
In 1995, growth had slowed to 3.8% or 967,100 summer visitors.
By 2001, the annual increase had slowed to just 0.5% at 1.2 million
"Now, the preliminary data for 2002 show an end to any growth,"
he said, "but the picture is complex."
For example, McDowell said the survey found that Alaska
businesses suffered a 6% decline in the number of independent
tourists to the state while the number of cruise passengers
Indeed, cruise ship companies reported record Alaska passenger
numbers this year, 720,000 compared with 690,000 in 2001, but many
passengers did not take package tours, impacting Interior Alaska
greatly, and many did not take the high-end shore excursions
critical to small tour operators.
Eighty-seven percent of interior region businesses said business
was down in the 2002 summer season.
Of statewide businesses that reported decreases, 43% said
business volume was down at least 11% and as much as 50%. Relative
to the markets to which they cater:
• 81% of businesses primarily serving the adventure travel
market reported a decline in volume.
• 65% of businesses serving the sport fishing market reported a
decline in volume.
• 61% of those businesses primarily serving the cruise/cruise
tour market reported a decline in business volume.
"Survival was how we measured success this year," said Kirk
Hoessle, president of Alaska Wildland Adventures.
Full results of the survey will be posted at www.alaskatia.org
under the "What's New" button.
Separately, ATIA unveiled a new logo and tagline at its third
annual convention in Juneau last week: Beyond your dreams, within