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Grass Greener in 2011

Southcentral tourism shows stability, some growth


At a recent Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) Report to the Community, the organization’s president and CEO Julie Saupe said 2010 was “challenging” but good, and that 2011 held promise. That’s a good way to start the year for the organization with more than 35 years in Anchorage promoting travel/tourism to Southcentral Alaska.

“We prepared for 2010 with some very tough decisions,” Saupe said in her speech. “We made difficult cuts and deferred some projects to put ACVB on the best footing for what was projected to be a tough economic year in general. In retrospect, 2010 was a better-than-expected year for Southcentral ….”

Good News

That’s good news, and even better news waits. Neal Fried, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor, said there will be positive job growth in the state in 2011, with tourism sharing in that expansion, noted Saupe.

“Looking ahead to 2011, we still face challenges and uncertainty,” Saupe said. Projections for leisure and business travel in the U.S. are up for 2011. That said, any international financial instability could spill over to the U.S. and hamper recovery. Here in Alaska, the overall cruise capacity is expected to see only moderate gains this year, with more ships added in 2012.”

Alaska: Be Seen!

Still, Alaska is garnishing its share of attention: New TV shows, new advertisement for Alaska tourism reaching audiences worldwide, more conventions scheduled, including the largest international convention ever staged in Anchorage – the 2011 Lion’s Leadership forum, which will bring with it 3,000 delegates and an economic impact of $2.9 million.

“There is a lot of marketplace interest in Alaska … we will build on that momentum,” Saupe said.

ACVB’s operations are funded through one-third of the bed tax in Anchorage. And the organization reported much to celebrate last year:

  • More than $93 million in future conventions were sold
  • More than 3,000 in the travel trade received Anchorage and
    Alaska training
  • ACVB’s Web properties received more than 933,000 visits
  • Advertising equivalency for Anchorage editorial – national and international – was roughly $7.5 million,
    110 percent of goal
  • ACVB welcomed 101 new members, closing 2010 with more than
    1,020 total members
  • The Anchorage Convention Centers exceeded budget expectations.

“2010 held some momentous and revolutionary firsts for Anchorage,” Saupe said in her speech. “The arrival of the Amsterdam (cruise ship) provided a boost to business every other Monday from May to September  .… Film projects, including ‘Everybody Loves Whales’ and ‘Ghost Vision’ marked a new era in Alaska’s development as a destination for film projects. ACVB opened the Film Anchorage office to provide even more support to the industry, and hosted ‘Lights, Camera, Anchorage’ a seminar on growing film-related businesses to better prepare our members and other Anchorage businesses to capitalize on film.”

She said she is “confident” in 2011, “we can build on our gains, tackle new obstacles, bring even more business to Anchorage and share Alaska with the world.”

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