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State marketing boost to show up on TV

One-time ATIA funding brings next year's budget to $18.7M, organization says dedicated funding is needed

Posted: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The state's tourism campaign will get a $7 million shot in the arm next year, but those in charge of the campaign say they could do more with dedicated funding.

Lawmakers approved the additional spending during the session that ended last month, bringing the Alaska Travel Industry Association's annual budget to $18.7 million, up from $11.7 million.

ATIA has a contract with the state to manage its tourism marketing campaign.

"It's great to have this one-term injection of funding but as anyone knows, where you're trying to grow image, awareness and brand, you need to be in there for the long haul," ATIA President Ron Peck said.

ATIA lost its bid for a dedicated funding source, even though Gov. Sean Parnell supported it through a bill that would have funneled cruise industry taxes to the organization. Parnell seems likely to approve one-time spending passed by legislators, but there's still time for vetoes.

More national television ads are sure to be part of an increased marketing effort, since lawmakers mandated $2 million for TV.

It's too early to say where additional funding might go, ATIA Marketing Director Kathy Dunn said. About $5 million will be added through a process thatinvolves marketing committees and board approval, she said.

A dedicated funding source would allow better negotiating for media buys, resulting in the state getting more for its money, Dunn said.

"You can get savings and your money goes farther" when you can commit to more time or have more money to spend, she said.

Peck said that to be competitive, Alaska should be spending between $20 million and $30 million a year. Hawaii, another long-haul destination, spends more than $80 million a year to attract about 7 million tourists. Alaska gets about 2 million tourists.

Peck said the additional $7 million would allow a stronger presence in the marketplace next year, an increased image and awareness of Alaska as a destination, and a stronger television and international presence.

ATIA's core budget is funded through about $9 million in rental car taxes and a $2.7 million match the organization must raise.

Peck said he intends to continue to seek dedicated funding from the Legislature.

"We'll work very diligently between now and next session to identify a model they think is workable," he said.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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