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Mid-Year Economic Outlook

‘The Great Alaska Comeback’

Alaska

Alaska’s economy is strong and getting stronger. With the More Alaska Production Act, we are seeing billions of new dollars in new investments, more rigs on the North Slope, over one thousand new jobs at Point Thomson, increased traffic on the Dalton Highway, and more pipe being shipped north on the Alaska Railroad. The Great Alaska Comeback is underway. With that firm foundation, we are making real progress on a gas pipeline and diversifying Alaska’s economic base.

—Governor Sean Parnell

 

Architecture & Engineering

It appears that engineering firms that design public transportation infrastructure will have another busy summer, as several projects go into construction this summer and the Alaska DOT&PF capitalizes on Highway Safety Improvement Funding to get new design projects started. There is some uncertainty in federal funding of future transportation projects due to the projected insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund; however, funding for transportation infrastructure projects tends to receive bipartisan support and solutions to this issue are optimistically expected to be forthcoming. State funding for transportation infrastructure projects is expected to be flat as these projects compete with other immediate needs for state funding. Work in other areas of engineering appears to be flat or slowly increasing.

—Jeanne M. Bowie, PE, PhD, PTOE
Kinney Engineering, LLC (2014 Engineer of the Year)

 

Arctic Policy

There will be continued effort to finalize the Alaska Arctic Policy and Implementation Plan, led by the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, as well as federal intent to move forward with the National Strategy for the Arctic Region Implementation Plan. These, the expected IMO Polar Code release and Arctic Council work on an Arctic Economic Council, will have implications for Alaska’s future economy. That said, I’m watching three indicators for Alaska economic development, as it relates to an increasingly busy Arctic—1) materials from Alaska shipped through the Northern Sea Route, 2) offshore development plans announced, and 3) clarity on what will happen with a deep draft port in the Bering Straits region.

—Nils Andreassen, Executive Director
Institute of the North

 

Alaska Native Corporations

While there have been many challenges to overcome in recent years, Bristol Bay Native Corporation continues to have record earnings due to our diversified portfolio of operations and assets. Our recent acquisition of Peak Oilfield Service Company has broadened our already successful oilfield service segment. With an increase of independent oilfield company exploration and a renewed focus from major oil companies, BBNC believes the sector is poised for growth. Tourism is coming off a very strong year with more to come. BBNC has fared well in real estate development in the Anchorage market where timing and the right partners makes all the difference.

We believe Alaska is a great place to invest if you are assertive and disciplined. We have a competitive marketplace with more investors looking to our State for growth opportunities every quarter.

—Jason Metrokin, President & CEO
Bristol Bay Native Corporation

 

Calista Corporation continues to build a strong foundation for our region and shareholders and descendants through our business activities, corporate involvement, and succession planning. As anticipated, federal sequestration placed pressure on ANCs in 2013, but we are looking forward to strong revenue forecasts for 2014. The SBA 8(a) program plays an important role in our success, but with continued attacks on the program, we are succeeding on our work to diversify our revenue base. Calista’s internship and scholarship programs are growing and provide students with the knowledge and financial means to further their education and gain employment. In the region, we look toward energy solutions and infrastructure improvements. This year, we will see several rural airport improvement projects and the first steps toward a Yukon-Kuskokwim Corridor.

—Andrew Guy, President & CEO
Calista Corporation

 

We are cautiously optimistic about current growth trends. We see the broader US economy improving, which has driven a very active investment climate. Since adopting a new organizational structure at the beginning of this year, Chugach is well-positioned to support sustainable growth strategies and deliver strong returns to shareholders. Alaska’s stable economy and steady growth present an opportunity to expand our portfolio of companies and invest in local businesses and industries. We believe many businesses across the state share our commitment to providing quality products and services with integrity and could benefit from a long-term partnership with Chugach. We would like to see the state’s current business environment remain healthy to support local businesses and jobs and a strong Alaska economy.

—Gabriel Kompkoff, CEO
Chugach Alaska Corporation

 

CIRI believes the outlook for the Anchorage economy is strong and our confidence is reflected in the investments the company is making. CIRI anticipates the oil and gas industry in Alaska to remain an economic driver, and in late 2013, CIRI and two other partners acquired the ConocoPhillips Office Complex, including Alaska’s tallest office building.

CIRI has also embarked on the development of a new eight-story office tower in Midtown Anchorage. The building will be part of the Fireweed Business Center located at the intersection of Fireweed Lane and the New Seward Highway. Demand for commercial real estate, particularly Class A office space, is strong, and CIRI expects this trend to continue into the foreseeable future.

—Sophie Minich, President & CEO
Cook Inlet Region, Inc.

 

Banking & Financial Services

Alaska’s economic outlook will depend on the voters in our state learning the facts about Alaska’s economy. The more each Alaskan understands what drives our economy, the better prepared they will be to positively support our state’s economy in the years to come, building a lifestyle they can enjoy and providing jobs for future generations. On August 19 it will be informed Alaskans who make a difference when they exercise their right to vote on ballot measure one. Learn the facts, join the conversation, and vote.

—Betsy Lawer, President
First National Bank Alaska

 

The economy in the State of Alaska is stable and stands to benefit from a number of public and private construction and infrastructure projects under consideration and underway in 2014—likewise with the banking business.

Though banking, in general, reflects the strength of our state’s economy, headwinds are being imposed by costly new regulatory requirements. What’s more, banks can expect increased competition from non-bank financial institutions that are not similarly regulated. Record low long-term interest rates rose slightly in 2013 and are expected to remain steady until year-end. Expected short and long-term interest rate hikes in 2015 may increase deposits and offset the possible slowdown of loan demand.

Meanwhile, employment in the financial sector grew modestly in 2013 and is expected to slightly increase or remain flat through 2014.

—Brian Nerland, Alaska Market President
KeyBank

 

I expect the second half of 2014 to remain stable and positive for the Alaska economy. Home prices are rising slightly on account of a stable job market and steady per capita income gains. We have seen a multi-billion dollar investment by the oil industry after the state tax structure was modified last year. Not changing this system through voter initiative later this year will be an important signal to energy companies that Alaska is a safe place to invest their long-term capital. Oil investment, coupled with large state and federal government capital budgets, has led to strong construction spending levels that are outpacing 2013. The tourism sector has posted its fourth consecutive year of increased visitors. Alaska is approaching 2 million visitors a year, who are reported to spend nearly $4 billion annually in the state.

—Mark Edwards, Bank Economist
Northrim Bank

 

Alaska’s banks continue to maintain a strong capital position as we work with Alaska businesses to fuel Alaska’s economy, making every good loan we can to businesses and consumers. The Alaska Bankers Association is optimistic about Alaska’s future with the potential for increased oil and gas exploration and production activity. The ABA supports SB21 as a means to grow Alaska’s economy over the long term.

—Joe Everhart, Alaska Regional President
Wells Fargo

 

Congressional Delegation

As summer quickly approaches, I look forward to the successful days ahead for our state’s many vital industries, including oil and gas development, fisheries, mining, and tourism. While Alaska continues to make great strides in the fight against over-reaching federal policies, we must stand strong against threats to our economic and social well-being and federal policies that lock up our lands, destabilize our marketplace, and burden our small businesses. Through a unified effort, Alaska can continue to make progress in achieving a better and brighter future.

— Don Young
US Representative

 

Our economy—the nation’s and Alaska’s—is getting back on track after facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression just a few years ago. When I entered the Senate in 2009, America was losing eight hundred thousand jobs a month, new housing starts were at record lows, and the national deficit hit a record $1.4 trillion. Today, the national jobless rate dropped to 6.3 percent, the stock market is above sixteen thousand, and housing starts and consumer confidence are at six-year highs. Today, Alaska is poised for prosperity with new oil and gas development on federal lands and waters, new military investments in our state, and rapid growth in sectors such as health care and tourism. I’ll continue to use my key Senate positions to cut unnecessary federal spending while making sure Alaska’s ample resources are available for development and our state’s business climate is stable to encourage investment.

—Mark Begich
US Senator

 

This administration has plenty of new federal regulations it would like to impose, from carbon emission limits—which would greatly harm coal production—to wetland and refuge development rules. That worries me, but I also believe if we can avoid crippling new regulations, there is no reason Alaska’s economic outlook should be anything but bright.

With reasonable permitting decisions, Shell is poised to proceed with exploratory oil drilling next summer in the Chukchi Sea. State tax policy has prompted billions of dollars of new investment at Prudhoe Bay and, if the courts allow it, development of the CD-5 satellite oil field in NPR-A should be able to move forward in a timely manner. North Slope producers seem more determined than ever to push for construction of an Alaska gas line, and prospects for new Cook Inlet gas and oil discoveries are more promising than they have been in years.

There might even be sufficient gas on the horizon to permit the Agrium fertilizer plant’s reopening, allowing some Nikiski plant LNG exports to resume. Finally, federal agencies seem open to permitting expansion of the Fort Knox mine, while Greens Creek tailing expansion has already been approved. Our future is indeed bright, as long as new federal regulations don’t unnecessarily darken the horizon.

—Lisa Murkowski
US Senator

 

Construction: Commercial

I continue to be optimistic. Confidence in our elected leadership and a renewed confidence in Alaska’s economy, as a result of the passage of the new production oil tax in 2013, are spurring some aggressive levels of private investment in the oil sector. This is resulting in a climate of optimism and higher private spending in the residential and commercial sectors, especially visible in Anchorage and Fairbanks. If SB21 is repealed in the August primary election, this robust market will quickly head south.

The Civil construction sector will continue to be robust, as DOT advances a number of projects and addresses a longstanding backlog.

The construction market continues to be very competitive in all sectors, and owners are taking advantage of good prices.

—John MacKinnon, Executive Director
Associated General Contractors of Alaska

 

Construction: Military & Civil Works

As we enter the heart of construction season in Alaska, we are executing 281 projects valued at $364.7 million. Contract competition is as robust as ever with the construction industry’s elevated interest in our business opportunities so far this fiscal year. Looking forward, we expect most of our workload to remain in line with original projections. Our environmental cleanup program is an exception with growth anticipated through the end of the year. Meanwhile, we are developing adaptable solutions for smaller projects to improve value for our existing and potential client base. Lastly, we are establishing the capability to assist federal customers in a more direct manner to meet energy sustainability and conservation requirements.

—Colonel Christopher D. Lestochi, Commander
US Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District

 

Economic Development

The remainder of 2014 should show continued moderate economic growth in Alaska. In Anchorage, the job picture should remain solid with moderate growth and low unemployment, even in the face of job losses in the government sector.

—Bill Popp, President & CEO
Anchorage Economic Development Corporation

 

Juneau is looking at a stable second half to 2014. The tourism and seafood industries are expected to do as well as last year, or better. There are several construction projects this summer to keep Juneau’s economy humming. The price of gold and silver is down from the historical highs, but well above long-term averages—which should keep our two producing mines in Juneau near the top of the list of private sector employers. We expect some lower spending at the local government level. The expected larger PFD will help us through the slower months of the late fall and early winter.

—Brian Holst, Executive Director
Juneau Economic Development Council

 

Education

The second half should see modest GDP growth; consumer spending and confidence stable; uptake in employment; borrowing costs stable; low inflation; thaw in business spending; the ability of Alaskans to affordably heat and buy their homes will remain problematic; and Alaska’s oil production will remain at 8 percent of the nation’s domestic oil supply. Proposition 1 impacts are considerable either way.

For the University of Alaska System, I see federal budget pressures on Pell Grants; revenue pressures; and heightened competition for students, donors, and government funds. Improving student outcomes while reducing the overall cost of operations will remain an overarching theme for the University.

—Dr. Ashok K. Roy, Vice President for Finance & Administration/CFO
University of Alaska System

 

Economy

Alaska’s economy continues the slow and steady growth trend seen over the last couple of years. Current positive drivers for the state’s economy include increased oil and gas spending resulting from the More Alaska Production Act, the large capital budgets passed by the legislature over the last half decade, strong prices for most salmon species and halibut, the expansion of the retail sector in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and expectations for a strong tourism season.

Relative economic laggards include the shrinking government sector, the hard rock mining sub-sector, and the professional services sector (partially related to The Pebble Partnership’s pull back). The health sector, which has been major driver in recent years, looks to be in a consolidation period after several years of very strong growth. While long-term demographic trends should drive a return to growth in that sector, future gains may be tempered by patients and employers looking for less expensive treatment options out-of-state.

Overall, we continue to expect employment growth this year to be around 1 percent with a bias towards the upside given the fact that half of the capital funds allocated by the legislature in recent years remain unspent and the rejuvenation of oil and gas spending in the state. The state funds provide a buffer against other negative shocks in the economy. However, as the state spending may not be sustainable at current levels, these funds and their effect on the economy have the potential to create a false sense of security.

—Marcus Hartley, President
Northern Economics, Inc.

 

Fisheries

As Alaska’s top private-sector employer, the seafood industry, directly employs more than sixty-three thousand workers per year. The seafood industry includes permit holders, crewmembers, processing workforce, hatchery operators, and tenders. Currently, 74 percent of active commercial fishing permit holders are Alaska residents who bring in over $640 billion in earnings. With so many Alaskans dependent on fishing for their livelihood, seafood is vitally important to the economy of the state.

Alaska is dependent on sustainable harvest of our natural resources, including seafood. The seafood industry’s success is subject to fluctuations in market demand and available resource. However, one of the primary issues facing the seafood industry is regulatory uncertainty. Each year, the seafood industry is subject to decisions made by the Board of Fisheries, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Alaska State Legislature, and additional regulatory bodies. This year, the seafood industry is also facing a court case and potential ballot initiative to eliminate set net fishing in Cook Inlet. Using a ballot initiative to reallocate resources is an action that pits Alaskans against Alaskans and creates regulatory instability for the seafood industry.

—Julianne Curry, Executive Director
United Fishermen of Alaska

 

Seafood is Alaska’s largest private sector employer and the state’s largest export. It is a good time to be in the fish business in Alaska. While there certainly are market challenges with wild capture fisheries in such a remote and high cost location, there is also a very strong demand for Alaska seafood products around the world. The reputation we have built of having the highest quality, most delicious seafood harvested sustainably from the world’s cleanest waters is the envy of seafood exporting countries around the world. If Alaska were a country, we would be a top seven seafood exporter in terms of value. Fluctuations in wild fish populations and global economic factors make every year an interesting one. Last year’s record run of pink salmon has offered opportunities to introduce new markets to an affordable wild salmon option. Continuing efforts to diversify markets and product forms for all seafood species, including byproducts, will be key to continued growth of the seafood sector of Alaska’s economy.

—Tyson Fick, Communications Director
Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

 

Energy

I think the economy will be similar to what it is now. MEA’s construction of our new EGS power plant has contributed over $100 million to the economy in Southcentral Alaska. While that will be winding down, some state projects will offset the loss of local spending. MEA continues to see increased demand for electricity and we anticipate further load growth in our long-range plan. Current improvements to electric infrastructure will pave the way for future economic development throughout the Railbelt.

—Joe Griffith, General Manager
Matanuska Electric Association

 

The outlook is good for clean energy in Alaska over the next several months. The Alaska Legislature recently appropriated more than $22 million dollars for the Renewable Energy Fund and more than $46 million for the state’s energy efficiency programs. The Legislature also extended the state’s Emerging Energy Technology Fund for five more years. Additionally, many analysts are predicting that new federal carbon pollution rules expected this summer from the EPA will drive billions of dollars in investment of renewable energy and energy efficiency across the country.

—Chris Rose, Executive Director
Renewable Energy Alaska Project

 

International Trade

As 2014 advances, we appear on track for an uptick in the value of Alaska’s overseas exports. Q1 results were up about 15 percent over the same period last year. China, Alaska’s number one trading partner, continues to lead the way for the state’s export industries. Year-on-year growth as of this writing is up 24 percent. The Japan and Korea markets are also showing improvement this year.

Overall, we expect the year to end up with exports once again reaching the $5 billion level, approaching the all-time record of $5.2 reached in 2011. Exports continue to be a growth sector for the Alaskan economy and a major source of high-paying jobs throughout the state.

—Greg Wolf, Executive Director
World Trade Center Alaska

 

Health and Medicine

Health care in Alaska is evolving in a manner similar to certain areas across the Lower 48, though generally the rate of change is slower and limited to larger population centers such as Anchorage. Health care affordability remains an overwhelming concern, whether government, employers, or patients. Purchase of health insurance by Alaskans through the federally operated health insurance exchange is slower than forecasts predicted. Care utilization levels among exchange enrollees remain modest, and it’s too early to predict what this means for utilization in the second half of 2014. Nationally, insurers predict high single-digit rate increases for insurance exchange enrollees in 2015. Consumer-facing technologies, including wearable gadgets and phone apps, are proliferating at a rapid pace. The impact these technologies may have on health care access and affordability is still too early to predict.

—Bruce Lamoureux, Senior VP/CEO
Providence Health & Services Alaska

 

As a newcomer to Anchorage (and Alaska), I am optimistic about the economy in my new hometown. The demand for services continues to be steady; however, as we’ve seen over the past few years, the costs of healthcare may be causing a delay in addressing health issues that create higher costs for patients and local employers down the road. As a hospital, we are working on creative strategies to help mitigate those costs by supporting health and wellness and helping people understand how to make informed decisions around their health management goals.

—Julie Taylor, CEO
Alaska Regional Hospital

 

Jobs

Our annual employment forecast for 2014, which was released in January, was for negligible growth of 0.4 percent, which is about 1,500 new jobs. This lackluster pace is largely a result of pinched federal spending, which has put downward pressure on local governments, federal civilian employment, and military-related construction. Private sector employers will likely continue adding jobs at a conservative rate, while government employment will continue to show losses.

—Caroline Schultz, Economist
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Research & Analysis Section

 

Mining

Although mineral investment in Alaska is expected to remain depressed for the remainder of 2014, Alaska’s operating mines continue to do well despite softening of metal prices over the last year. Record-setting, world-wide production of metals such as gold, silver, and copper coupled with the two-year hiatus in mineral exploration have resulted in a distinct lack of new discoveries and advanced projects that can feed the growing global demand for minerals. With mine production far in excess of the exploration sector’s ability to replace that production, a return to more aggressive exploration is only a matter of time. Alaska has started to feel the front-end of this sea change, with a distinct increase in the number of projects being reviewed for acquisition, some of which will result in outright sales or joint venture agreements. However, initial exploration spending for the bulk of these new arrangements will not be felt until 2015. Alaska’s unquestioned mineral potential is its single strongest drawing card, followed by its pro-development government, experienced labor force, and settled First Nations issues. Weighing in on the negative side of the scale are the State’s general lack of access/infrastructure, the exit of Anglo American and Rio Tinto from the Pebble project, and the EPA’s shenanigans in the Bristol Bay watershed. In summary, for the second half of 2014 look for continued strong performances from the State’s operating mines, limited expenditures from the exploration sector, and ground preparations for new acquisitions that will likely not be felt until 2015.

—Curt Freeman, President
Avalon Development Corporation

 

Insurance

Anchorage businesses began 2014 feeling very confident about the Anchorage and Alaska economy, according to the AEDC Business Confidence Index survey. Most of the businesses I talk to share this view and I think the outlook for the rest of 2014 will show they were right.

—Lon Wilson, President & CEO
The Wilson Agency

 

Oil & Gas

At BP, we’re excited about the future of oil and gas development in Alaska. We’re reinvesting more than we did previously, an increase of 60 percent from previous years under ACES. Thanks to tax reform, Alaska is now on course for increased investment and production and even the possibility of LNG.

—Janet Weiss, President
BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. AKA BP Alaska

 

We are in the fortunate position of knowing that certain aspects of the oil and gas industry will improve in the second half of 2014. Just this April, the State of Alaska Department of Revenue adjusted its forecast for daily oil production upward by 13,600 barrels per day because of increased activity on the North Slope. With billions of dollars of new investment on the North Slope and in Cook Inlet creating additional jobs across the state, we expect the outlook for the industry—and the Alaskans who rely on the revenues it provides—to continue to improve. The only barrier to this progress will be the repeal of oil tax reform which, if passed, jeopardizes all this hard-won progress. AOGA is a strong supporter of Vote No on 1 for just that reason: we need to keep Alaska’s economy moving in the right direction.

—Kara Moriarty, President & CEO
Alaska Oil and Gas Association

 

We expect to stay on track to execute our $1.7 billion capital budget. We will be focusing on infrastructure renewal projects, increased drilling, and the CD-5 project. We expect to continue to progress major projects such as Kuparuk Drill Site 2S, GMT-1 in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and the 1H Northeast West Sak viscous oil development and will be seeking approval for these projects in the latter half of the year. These new development projects represent about $2 billion of investment and could add 40,000 barrels per day in 2018 to help offset declining TAPS throughput. The passage of SB21, the More Alaska Production Act, has improved the investment climate and hence the economic outlook for the state. Voting no on Ballot Measure 1 is critical to the long-term health of Alaska’s economy.

—Trond-Erik Johansen, President
ConocoPhillips Alaska

 

Timber

A strong demand for Alaska logs and lumber will continue throughout 2014. Two Alaska companies are shipping logs to China from several sites in Southeast Alaska, and both companies are also sending sawlogs to the Viking Sawmill in Klawock, Alaska. These logs are an important supplement to the timber that Viking harvests from state and federal lands in Southeast Alaska. Viking reports a strong, ongoing demand for its lumber, and if adequate timber was available, the mill would add a second shift to double its production. Timber in the Interior of Alaska is becoming increasingly important for both biomass and for a few small sawmills in that region, and the planned State Forests in Susitna and Copper River could provide a reliable timber supply for future expansion of the sawmills in the Southcentral region.

—Owen Graham, Executive Director
Alaska Forest Association

 

Real Estate

As a state, Alaska’s commercial real estate market is stable and shows signs of increased activity in the future. City-wide, Anchorage is currently facing a low inventory rate of commercial properties available for lease and purchase. Low inventory often leads to an increase in development, which means jobs and more money flowing within the community.

—Chad Graham
Graham Commercial Real Estate Consultants, Inc.

 

My prediction for the last six months of the year is that inventory will continue to be tight in all markets. Prices will continue to go up due to the shortage. We are probably turning from a buyers’ market to more of one that is balanced. Buyers will not get all the concessions that they are used to, and we will most likely see interest rates start to creep up.

—Paddy Coan, President
Alaska Association of Realtors

 

Nonprofit Organizations

Historically, much of Rasmuson Foundation’s funding has been committed to nonprofit capital projects, usually in partnership with other funders. We have seen a steady shift in applications from new construction to renovations and building improvements. This seems to reflect that many organizations are uncertain about their ability to raise matching funds from government and the private sector, and they’re concerned about future levels of operating support. The absence of federal earmarks, elimination of Denali Commission funding for clinics and community centers, and substantial reduction in Alaska’s allocation of USDA community facility funding all play into this. Applications for small equipment and building projects have increased dramatically. Increasingly, Alaska funders are collaborating to look upstream to address system changes that will improve Alaskans’ quality of life, focusing on issues like the acute housing shortage, domestic violence and child abuse/neglect, excessive use of alcohol, and educational achievement. We spend more and more of our time and resources working to influence the investment of public funds in strategies that have proven outcomes and demonstrate efficient use of resources.

—Diane Kaplan, President & CEO
Rasmuson Foundation

 

Tourism

Anecdotal reports suggest that the upcoming summer tourism season in Fairbanks will be stable with little to no growth. Primarily due to changes in some cruise land tour patterns, downtown Fairbanks businesses will likely see increases. In 2013, the five-month summer period accounted for about 64 percent of the hotel/motel tax collections. But summer revenues have not yet, nor are they likely this summer, recovered to the peak summer of 2008. However, we anticipate that the 2014 year-end hotel/motel tax receipts will again, as in 2012 and 2013, exceed 2008 revenues due to the growth of winter tourism.

—Deb Hickok, President & CEO
Explore Fairbanks

 

While I can’t speak to the Alaska economy as a whole, I believe that in Juneau, the second half of 2014 will see visitor volume, spending, and hotel occupancy continue to grow. Lower airfares should drive more independent travel, and folks are feeling very positive about the summer season so far.

Later in the year, the city switches gears to more arts and cultural activities, and Eaglecrest Ski Area is a great draw for locals and visitors alike. All of these things make me optimistic about the visitor industry throughout the remainder of 2014.

—Nancy Woizeschke
President & CEO, Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau

 

We anticipate another strong summer visitor season, resulting in increased statewide economic growth. Alaska continues to be the destination of choice for visitors from both domestic and international markets. Between October 2012 and September 2013, Alaska welcomed 1.96 million visitors who accounted for $1.8 billion in spending. Visitor industry-related employment reached thirty-nine thousand jobs, representing nine percent of statewide employment. With new and increased air access and continued strong relationships with cruise, ferry, and highway partners, Alaska is more accessible than ever. The Alaska Travel Industry Association and our members look forward to another great summer season of welcoming visitors, supporting tourism businesses, and growing our state’s economy.

—Sarah Leonard, President & CEO
Alaska Travel Industry Association

 

We’re off to an excellent start this summer. We had a strong spring convention season before starting the summer. National groups including the Seismological Society of America, the National Association of Counties, and the National Association of State Legislatures each met in the city in late April and early May. Generally, a positive economy nationwide translates into a positive outlook for tourism. Through April, Anchorage hotel occupancy was up year-to-date, and hotel room tax collections for Q1 were up as well. This summer, we anticipate more than a million people will visit Anchorage. We’ve heard a lot of positive outlook from tourism businesses here in Anchorage in terms of bookings in advance of the summer season. 2013 was one of the best—if not the best—years for tourism in Anchorage. We are optimistic about 2014 for leisure and convention business. We’re looking ahead to a strong fall convention schedule as well.

—Julie Saupe, President & CEO
Visit Anchorage

 

Transportation

ATA members are generally busy and having a pretty good year. They have a sense of optimism for the second half of 2014 and on into 2015 provided that Ballot Proposition One is defeated and the oil and gas tax reforms stay in place.

—Aves Thompson, Executive Director
Alaska Trucking Association

 

This first appeared in the July 2014 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.

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