Put together by the Alaska Travel Industry Association, the Alaska Tourism Industry Crisis Recovery Plan cites a Dec. 1 survey of Alaska businesses that shows a sharp decline in bookings compared to 2000. The survey showed a 34 percent drop in motorcoach travel, a 46 percent drop in RV rental, a 39 percent drop in cruise ship travel, and a 30 percent drop in airline travel. The survey was conducted by GMA Research.
The possible outcome of these reductions, according to the recovery plan, is a 10 percent decrease in visitors (a loss of 140,000 visitors), which would mean a loss of $101.6 million in visitor spending and 1,564 travel-related jobs.
"There is no timeline on the war against terrorism and this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the psychology of future travelers," the report said. "Add to this a recession in the U.S. and there is a great likelihood that Americans will spend less on travel and stay closer to their own homes. ... The Alaska Travel Industry Association is requesting $12.5 million from the state for a national emergency marketing campaign so Alaska can compete against destinations that are aggressively targeting U.S. consumers."
Aggressive marketers include Florida, Hawaii, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and South Carolina. Alaska's current marketing budget for tourism, $7.8 million, is far below the average state marking budget of $13.7 million for 2000-2001, and minuscule compared to Florida's $68 million budget, the plan says.
Among other things such as research and Web site enhancement, the recovery plan would fund:
Aggressive television advertising.
Newspaper advertisements in 25 national markets and submarkets, 2.5 million direct mail packages.
Attendance at trade shows.
A Whistle Stop promotion using a railcar traveling along the West Coast to "capture the imagination of people of all ages."
West Coast editor briefings.
Other proposals include creating a two-minute television advertorial (a combination of advertising and editorial comment) to be aired on West Coast cable stations to showcase the beauty and splendor of Alaska.
Under "return on investment," the crisis recovery plan estimates that this campaign could generate an estimated 182,850 visitors to Alaska this year, generating $132.7 million in direct revenue.
The complete plan is available at www.alaskatia.org; click on the What's New button.