ANCHORAGE - Alaska tourism promoters are hoping the flash of Sarah Palin, "Deadliest Catch," ''Ice-Road Truckers" and other popular media stars will translate to more visitors to the 49th state.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association has launched a series of new cable TV marketing ads and it made sure to grab a couple of spots on "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the documentary series on The Learning Channel that features the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.
Fans of the Discovery Channel reality show "Deadliest Catch" also can catch the ads.
"Obviously, any time you put Alaska in front of people, no matter the context, it's a good thing," said Kathy Dunn, the association's marketing director. "Exposure is always good."
The ads showcase wildlife like eagles and bears; scenery including glaciers, icebergs and mountains; and people kayaking, fishing and whitewater rafting.
The ads will run through mid-March. Two have aired, another has been completed and a fourth is in production, Dunn said.
The production budget for the commercials totaled nearly $600,000, which comes from a hefty infusion of funding proposed by Gov. Sean Parnell and approved by state lawmakers. Because of the boost, Alaska's national TV advertising budget topped $6.1 million for the current fiscal year, up from slightly more than $1.2 million.
Association president Ron Peck said his group hopes to work with lawmakers to continue with the same level of marketing.
Travel industry experts have said tourism in the state was on the rise this year, with the number of independent travelers up slightly from recessionary 2009.
Visitor numbers are expected to improve even more in 2011.
"It's important for Alaska to maintain its visibility as the economy improves," Peck said in a statement. "Other destinations are marketing aggressively, and we need to be competitive to keep the industry on a track to recovery to pre-recession levels."