The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee has decided to hold the so-called “Travel Alaska Act” until 2018. The act would enshrine a Travel Alaska Board to oversee funds collected through a new tourism-marketing assessment (tax) to replace state tourism-marketing general funds, which have been cut in recent years.
The way a tourism improvement district (TID) works: Industry pays an assessment, which is collected by government. Funding is allocated for tourism promotion. The tourism-marketing efforts are governed by and benefit those who are assessed and can be managed by an existing industry association. Payors can also vote to disestablish the assessment. While Alaska’s Constitution does not allow for dedicated funds, creating an industry self-assessment model through a TID allows the legislature and governor a way to allocate an investment in tourism marketing.
TIDs are occurring around the country at local and regional levels and, most recently, in California at a statewide level to fund tourism-promotion efforts.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) Board of Directors and industry partners began discussing the idea of an Alaska statewide TID earlier this year in response to the huge decline of Alaska tourism-marketing dollars in the state’s operating budget. Alaska’s tourism-marketing program was allocated $1.5 million in 2017, significantly reduced from previous levels of $10-$18 million.