Alaska visitor numbers drop slightly

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Alaska welcomed just over 1.7 million out-of-state visitors between May and September 2008, the state's bread-and-butter summer season.



The statistic, which represents a drop of less than 1% compared with summer 2007, was released by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development in its annual Alaska Visitor Statistics Program Visitor Volume report.

According to Caryl McConkie, the department's tourism development manager, a 1.3% decline in visitors arriving by air was primarily responsible for the decline.

"Even though we had indications that international air visitors would be up this summer because of the weakened U.S. dollar, the increases in international visitors did not make up for the decreased numbers of domestic air travelers," McConkie said.

The only growth segment was cruise arrivals, which rose a modest 1.1% compared with summer 2007, McConkie said.

Looking ahead to summer 2009, the projections point to a worse performance, due to the lingering global recession and continuing U.S. job losses.

McConkie said several local visitors' bureaus are expecting a minimum 10% drop in business, with some expecting business to drop by as much as 30%.

The report is available at www.commerce.state.ak.us/oed.

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