Travel association fails to make case

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2007

The state funding request by the Alaska Travel Industry Association is a dramatic change from past agreements with the state to share equally in Alaska tourism promotion.

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Going from a 50-50 share to a 90-10 state/industry split is a fiscal departure that should be based on both demonstrated need and a logical advertising strategy for the future. Yet that has not occurred.

The association has failed to make the case that its past state appropriations were well spent, or that increased funding is the simple answer. The association also has chosen to blame the cruise ship initiative as the probable cause of its funding woes, ignoring that private advertising for cruises to Alaska now tops $70 million a year. Market forces appear to be working naturally to make the association irrelevant in the big picture of advertising for a $2 billion per year Alaska tourism industry.

Former Gov. Jay Hammond articulated the standard for state funding of industry years ago: no subsidies. The Alaska Travel Industry Association should wake up and put its considerable marketing skills together to raise money for the 50 percent share agreement they now enjoy, before it all dissolves in the wake of the wealthy cruise industry.

Chip Thoma


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