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Tourism Marketing Grant Included in Budget Proposal

Dec 13, 2021 | Government, News, Tourism

©Lawrence Weslowski Jr | Dreamstime.com

Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposed state operating budget for fiscal year 2023 would direct a $5 million federal grant to the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA). The funding would be on top of a recently approved $10.5 million federal grant that Dunleavy designated to the tourism association in September.

Building Momentum for 2022

Dunleavy says the new funding will help Alaska’s tourism industry remain competitive. “There’s more pent-up demand to travel globally, and we want Alaska to compete for it and to capitalize on it,” he says.

ATIA President and CEO Sarah Leonard says, “Our industry has been shaken by the last few years, but now we are on the path to recovery. This investment in statewide tourism marketing will allow us to build on the creativity and momentum on initiatives we’ve implemented over the past few years.”

On Monday, Dunleavy celebrated positive market indicators for tourism with representatives from the visitor industry at an Alaska Airlines’ hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC).


  • Passenger travel to ANC continued its climb back to pre-pandemic levels. For the summer of 2021, May through September, 877,351 more passengers passed through ANC when compared to last year, ANC reports.
  • Last summer, Fairbanks International Airport (FAI), reports it was bustling with expanded service from two new seasonal carriers and added destinations from two long-term carriers. This year, FAI anticipates the return of international carriers in the summer of 2022 with service to Frankfurt, Germany and Dawson City, Canada charter operations.
  • In the third quarter of this fiscal year, bed taxes and visitor room revenues for hotels and non-hotels continue to trend upward in Alaska communities since 2019, particularly in Ketchikan and Juneau, recently up 26 percent and up 49 percent in bed taxes, respectively.
  • Sportfishing licenses for visitors went up, with 2,813 more non-resident licenses purchased in 2021 than in 2019.
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The post-pandemic landscape for tourism had looked grim in 2020. A study by McKinley Research Group showed visitor volume fell by an estimated 82 percent between April and December for 2019 and 2020, from 2.4 million visitors to just 427,000 visitors. The economic loss from a canceled cruise ship season for Alaska is estimated to total $3 billion alone.

Early last year, when many tourism businesses were considering closing their doors, Governor Dunleavy directed $5 million in emergency CARES Act funds to ATIA to attract independent travelers.

“ATIA is Alaska’s statewide tourism marketing leader. I appreciate how the nonprofit has collaborated with other tourism promoters and my administration to keep Alaska top of mind for potential travelers,” Dunleavy says. “I applaud the outreach work of the many other tourism visitor centers, chambers, and bureaus as well. Our joint work may be credited with bringing in tourists after the disaster and saving many small tourism businesses.”

The joint COVID-safe marketing effort of Alaska Governor Dunleavy’s Office, the tourism grantees for the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, and the nonprofit ATIA, together helped draw tourists in the 2021 summer season. The overall funding for marketing Alaska as COVID safe was some $27 million.

The competitive tourism marketing grants for the COVID-safe campaign were issued to the following entities:

  • Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau $170,385
  • Explore Fairbanks Alaska $348,640
  • Discover Kodiak $31,107
  • Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center $253,489
  • Seward Chamber of Commerce $179,000
  • Visit Anchorage $1,630,000
  • Ketchikan Visitors Bureau $527,790
  • Cordova Chamber of Commerce $376,000
  • Koahnic Broadcast Corporation $451,580
  • Alaska Travel Industry Association $1,999,279
  • Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council $410,000
  • Visit Sitka, Sitka Chamber of Commerce $235,000
  • Travel Juneau $574,000
  • Kawerak, Inc. $941,885
  • Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau $88,290
  • Spruce Root, Inc.$1,560,000
  • Copper Valley Development Association $140,000
  • Haines Economic Development Corporation $88,355

Several Cash Streams

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Leonard says ATIA will use the grant funding to continue statewide tourism promotional efforts activated during the pandemic. That includes safe travel guidance in advertising, public relations and travel trade efforts. ATIA will also be furthering its efforts to support cultural tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities in Alaska. Already in 2021, ATIA added a Cultural Enrichment Subcommittee to be more inclusive of Alaska Native and cultural stories in tourism marketing.

The funding sources for the tourism grants to ATIA include:

  • A $5 million emergency grant from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, from January 2021.
  • In July 2021, ATIA also received a COVID Safe Travel Promotion and Marketing grant of $1.99 million through the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development and developed a COVID-19 safe travel campaign targeted to the summer season and the independent, domestic traveler through digital media. As part of this campaign, ATIA re-launched a travel safe tourism marketing campaign targeted to in-state (resident) travelers: Show Up for Alaska, which encouraged Alaskans to explore their state last summer.
  • In September, a $10.48 million grant was designated by Governor Dunleavy and approved in November from the US Department of Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors in the state. The grant funding allows for the continuation of statewide tourism promotional efforts. The funds were approved by the Legislature in the third special session.
  • Today, Dunleavy designated a $5 million grant in his FY23 budget from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, subject to legislative approval.

“In preparation for growth in visitors, my budget will also seek an extra $1 million for state parks to make sure our facilities are clean and accessible for both in and out-of-state visitors,” Dunleavy adds.

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