Knowles wants funds to market fish, tourism

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles will ask the Legislature for $21 million to market Alaska's salmon and vacation spots, officials said today.

The plan would set aside $10 million each for tourism and seafood marketing. Knowles will ask the Legislature to "fast track" the money this year before the Legislature completes its deliberations on a fiscal 2003 state budget.

Falling salmon prices and fears from the travel industry about fewer vacationers this year following the Sept. 11 attacks prompted Knowles to ask for marketing funds for each.

Knowles proposes giving $5 million to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute - which is funded by taxes imposed on the fishing industry - and another $5 million to the state Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

It would allow ASMI to wage an advertising campaign to promote Alaska salmon and allow the state agency to fund grants for regional and niche marketing plans.

Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who announced the plan for Knowles during a news conference today, said a quick infusion of cash now could help minimize negative economic losses within these industries later.

The Alaska Travel Industry Association would also receive $9.8 million to convince vacationers to come to Alaska. The group had asked the Knowles Administration for more than $12 million.

Jeff Bush, Commerce and Economic Development deputy director, said the funds would be used for a post-Sept. 11 advertising campaign that promotes Alaska as a safe alternative to foreign destinations.

Knowles will ask for another $200,000 to be set aside for the Alaska Marine Highway System to promote ferry travel in the state.

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