Alaska tourism officials aim to inspire now, welcome later

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As more companies employ videoconferencing, Travel Alaska has introduced several free Zoom backgrounds.
As more companies employ videoconferencing, Travel Alaska has introduced several free Zoom backgrounds. Photo Credit: Peter Kronemann/Alaska Travel Industry Association
Renee Brincks
Renee Brincks

In response to travel restrictions, cancellations and closings sparked by Covid-19, Alaska tourism officials are using new tools to inspire potential travelers and fans of the Last Frontier.

The Travel Alaska blog now spotlights various educational experiences, entertainment and other opportunities to engage with the state's attractions. From links to Denali National Park soundscapes to wildlife images that double as video chat backdrops, the resources are free to travelers -- and the travel advisors who serve them.

"We hope they'll use these tools to inspire travelers' curiosity," said Sarah Leonard, president and CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA), in an interview last week. "While Zoom backdrops, videos and virtual experiences might be entertainment for now, we hope it gets travelers to ask how they can visit these places in person in the future. Perhaps one video will inspire an entire itinerary for a traveler."

As operators pause or cancel their 2020 tour offerings, Leonard and her colleagues encourage travelers to postpone trips rather than abandon plans entirely.

"While we are hopeful that we'll be able to welcome travelers back to Alaska later this year, right now our priority is everyone's health and safety, and we had to acknowledge the reality that it is imperative to stay home," she said. "We look forward to working with local, state and federal leaders on the process of reopening sectors of the economy when the time is appropriate and safe for Alaskans."

A new 60-second video from the state tourism industry underscores that message.

Shared across social media platforms and the Travel Alaska website, the piece reminds travelers that glaciers, mountains and wildlife will be there once travel restrictions ease and it's again safe to explore. 

"We want you to dream now, and travel later," says text that unfolds across images of glaciers, whales and wide-open spaces. "Alaska will wait, for you."

In addition to the new video, Travel Alaska's digital resources include:

Blog content and links: The Travel Alaska blog features an updated selection of virtual experiences offered by tourism partners across the state. Whether it's video of Katmai National Park and Preserve's bears splashing in the Brooks River, or virtual tours of the Alaska Native artwork on display at Kodiak's Alutiiq Museum, these links provide an instant escape and connections to Alaska culture and scenery.

Social media shares: Travel Alaska and its tourism industry partners are using regular posts across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other channels to share the state's highlights with viewers near and far. Engaging social media posts promote scenic landscape photos, live webcams, wildlife trivia, links to live-stream events and forward-looking travel tips, along with children's activities and educational resources. 

Zoom backdrops: In light of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, individuals are turning to video conferencing for business meetings and check-ins with friends and family. Custom backgrounds add visual interest and a layer of privacy as participants work from home. Plus, destination images provide a virtual escape when travel is limited. Travel Alaska has introduced several free Zoom backgrounds showcasing the state's glaciers, animals and aurora-splashed skies.

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