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Cruise ship traffic to Alaska was up last summer, but recreational vehicle travel was down, despite growing interest in camping and RVing in the continental United States, a recent survey reports.
Although roughly 1.2 million travelers went to Alaska last summer, about the same as the previous year, a record 750,000 of them used cruise ships, apparently due in part to heavy advertising and discounted fares.
However, a September survey of 315 travel-related businesses by the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) indicates fewer RVers, campers and fly fisherman headed north to Alaska, and declines were reported in sales of adventure travel and packaged tours.
Preliminary findings show about half of the surveyed businesses reported fewer vacationers, while 18% were up. The hardest hit were in the state’s interior.
“Survival was how we measured success this year,” said Kirk Hoessle, president of Alaska Wildland Adventures, according to The Associated Press.
Travel industry officials blame the lackluster season on a soft economy and post-Sept. 11 travel jitters. They also warned that the state must do a better job of competing with other destinations. “Long-term, I think we need additional marketing dollars to promote all sectors of the state,” said ATIA President Ron Peck.
The association had issued a warning before the summer that early bookings were down by as much as 50% from 2001 figures, but the state legislature turned down a request by Gov. Tony Knowles for $9.8 million in additional marketing funds to help the state compete with other destinations.