Working together, members of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, Alaska Cruise Association and AlaskaACT secured increased dollars to market Alaska as a travel destination. The additional $7 million, allocated to ATIA by the state Legislature, will impact the 2011 visitor season.

The core budget went from $11.7 million to $18.7 million, and Alaska’s national TV advertising budget went from $1.22 million to $6.11 million. “All told, this is a pretty substantial increase,” ACA President John Binkley said. “Our hope is increased advertising will build demand for Alaska as a destination. When demand goes up, Alaska becomes more competitive with other destinations.”

The funding request came after industry officials watched visitation drop in 2009. Though many blamed the economy, a more likely culprit was Alaska’s $46 per passenger cruise ship head tax. About 60 percent of the state’s summer visitors arrive by cruise ship. In June Gov. Sean Parnell signed Senate Bill 312, legislation that adjusted the cruise passenger head tax from $46 per head to $34.50.

ATIA will dedicate the majority of the additional funds to TV advertising, substantially increasing Alaska’s presence on seven national cable networks. The remainder of the additional funding will augment existing programs including print advertising, research, website development, public relations, outreach to travel agents and industry trade, international marketing and printing Alaska travel materials.

“We want to recognize a lot of fellow industry associations, such as ACA and AlaskaACT, that worked diligently to obtain the additional funding,” said Ron Peck, ATIA’s president and chief operating officer. “Our members statewide will benefit directly when more potential visitors are exposed to Alaska’s message and book a trip to our state.”

Though this was a one-time increase, ATIA’s 31-member marketing committee is in the process of putting in place a funding mechanism that will guarantee a predictable, sustainable level of marketing dollars each year.

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