Knowles embarks on trip to promote tourism

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles was joined by 20 state and business leaders Tuesday for a one-week trip to England and Germany to promote Alaska tourism, seafood and energy development.

The delegation will host receptions showing off Alaska fish and attend a huge global tourism trade fair in Berlin. While in London, Knowles will meet with oil executives, including BP chief executive John Browne.

The trip had been scheduled for last fall but was delayed by the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

''This European initiative is the perfect opportunity for Alaska companies to learn more about business potential in Europe, and European companies to learn more about Alaska,'' Knowles said.

The governor said both the United Kingdom and Germany rank among Alaska's top 10 export markets. Alaska exports last year to the United Kingdom totaling more than $90 million. Exports to Germany were $115 million.

Alaska sends 70 percent of its exports to Asia and 30 percent to Europe, said Deborah Sedwick, state community and economic development commissioner, who is part of the contingent.

The state's travel industry has feared a massive downturn in visitors this summer due to the terrorism. That makes the trade mission ''absolutely the right thing to do at the right time,'' said delegation member David Howe, president of All Alaska Tours of Anchorage.

More than 30,000 German visitors are expected to visit Alaska this year.

Others making the trip include Barbara Belknap, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute; Chris von Imhof of Alyeska Resort in Girdwood; Bruce Bustamante, president of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau; and representatives of companies including Wells Fargo & Co., Native corporations and cruise lines.

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