2014 was a record year for tourism in Southcentral Alaska according to Visit Anchorage. The organization predicts 2015 might be just as good. Visit Anchorage President and CEO Julie Saupe says the primary measure is bed tax collection. The municipality will pull in about $24.2 million this year, a third of which goes back to Visit Anchorage to market the city.
Saupe says tourism to the region is bouncing back because of marketing efforts and general economic rebound.
“I think there’s a lot of consumer confidence, a lot of people are finally feeling they might have a little disposable income after what we saw happen in 2008 and 2009, so there’s a little pent up demand.”
Saupe says tour operators and sales staff foresee tourism continuing to grow in 2015. Cruise ships plan to bring an additional 33,000 passengers to Southcentral Alaska next year. Organizations are also booking many conferences in the region.
Saupe says the increase in tourism is good for the entire economy. “You look at the tourists on the street and yes they’re in the our restaurants, our hotels, our gift shops. That’s the easy layer to see. But all of those businesses have insurance, they have remodeling, they’re using gas for the tour vans. It really does trickle to just about every corner of our community.”
The city’s bed tax also feeds into the general fund and helps pay for the city’s convention centers.