One of the most significant results of last May’s special session of the legislature is that the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) is no longer charged with planning and executing the state’s destination tourism marketing campaign. An amendment to the capital appropriation bill deleted the provision in the operating budget which would have funded ATIA and instead directed a $12 million capital appropriation to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) for a destination marketing campaign.
As many of you know, ATIA has had a legislative monopoly on state marketing money for over ten years. This is a pretty sudden change and it will take some time for the dust to settle. In the short term, DCCED is seeking program continuity and may contract directly with ATIA contractors and service providers. The really interesting question is what will happen in the long term. Will the legislature create an official “department of tourism” or will marketing be handled by some form of quasi-governmental entity? Another possibility has been suggested by Representatives Austerman, Chenault, Johnson, Stoltze, Thomas, Peggy Wilson, and Herron who introduced a bill in April that would create a multi-industry Alaska Promotion and Marketing Board.
Whatever happens, you can be sure that AWRTA will be actively engaged and exploring ways to ensure that there is a greater emphasis on sustainability and attracting independent travelers to Alaska. Tourism marketing is an issue in which all of AWRTA’s members and supporters have an interest. If you have thoughts or suggestions on what the next marketing model should be, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll collect the comments and if there’s enough interest, create a committee to develop a “vision” for tourism marketing in Alaska.