JUNEAU -- Alaska tourism interests are geared to do things
differently in 2000 and beyond following the passage of a bill to
restructure the state's marketing efforts.
The bill (S.B. 107), which was passed in the late stages of the
past legislative session, cleared the way to merge the functions of
the three current promotional and marketing bodies: the Alaska
Visitor Association (AVA), the Division of Tourism and the Alaska
Tourism Marketing Council (ATMC), which implemented the programs of
the other two.
Their roles will be consolidated within a new entity that will
be known as the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA). AVA, the
trade association of the industry, will exist for another year,
allowing for an orderly transition to ATIA.
One of the most obvious effects on the private sector will be
financial. Under the new plan, more of the tab for promoting Alaska
will have to be picked up by the industry rather than by the
In return, though, the private sector will have a greater say in
how the state is promoted and to whom. In the past, despite the
high degree of cooperation that existed, some in the industry were
unhappy with the cost and the thrust of some of the Division of
The bill, which solidified and streamlined Alaska marketing
under ATIA, arose out of the industry's New Millennium Plan, for
which AVA has been fighting for several years.
A transitional team is finalizing details of the structure of
ATIA, which will be run by a board of directors, some of whom will
be elected by the private sector, with others appointed by the
The state is expected to maintain a level of investment in
tourism promotion -- although that level has been declining
steadily -- but the hope is that, in any case, the members of ATIA
will eventually be able to bear a significant share of the
A membership drive is under way. Those who have not been
contacted should call AVA's fax-on-demand service at (888)
Ken Dole, president of AVA, said the New Millennium Plan was
designed to create "an organization that makes effective use of our
collective marketing dollars."
Delegates at the annual AVA convention in Ketchikan Oct. 13 to
15 will be updated on the transition to the new program.
New industry association has taxing battles
JUNEAU -- Among the issues the new Alaska Travel Industry
Association must confront is the increasingly thorny one of tourism
More and more, the legislature, faced with budget shortfalls
caused primarily by declining oil revenues, is looking to the
visitor industry as a source of new income for the general
In recent years, both the state and individual cities have
talked longingly about imposing a head tax on arriving cruise
passengers, and although the assault has been turned back, nobody
in the industry believes the danger has disappeared.
In the last legislative session, the Senate Transportation
Committee approved a bill to put a $5 per head levy on all riders
transported by the Alaska Railroad -- including those carried in
privately owned rail cars.
That would have meant, of course, a tax on passengers on Holland
America's McKinley Explorer and Princess' Midnight Sun domed
sightseeing cars, which are pulled by the Alaska Railroad.
The bill was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, where it
remained without further action until the close of the session.
Another bill submitted last session would have put a 2% tax on
hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast accommodations in the tourism
season; a $3 per head berth tax on cruise ships, and a $2 per night
charge for wilderness and nonhotel packages. The initiative was
An effort also was made to have the legislature impose a 10% tax
on all vehicles rented for fewer than 90 days. It died without
coming to a vote.