Barrow tourism eyes busy summer after slow winter

Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2002

BARROW (AP) -- Barrow is emerging from its winter tourism blues.

Over the years, Barrow tourism officials had reached a level of success in attracting visitors to the northernmost town. Then came the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which made for a bleak winter season.

But now business is picking up again.

''Last January we were down around 29 percent. February we were down 33 percent, but March we went up 33 percent,'' said Ellen Leavitt, the manager of Tundra Tours in Barrow. ''September through December of last year I would say it was worse, following the September 11 tragedy.''

Leavitt said Tundra Tours counted a total of 395 tourists between September and March.

''This summer we're hopefully going to meet or beat the number we had last summer -- about 4,400,'' Leavitt said. ''Right now, it's still a little low for summer, but we are optimistic.''

Barrow's summer season runs from mid May to mid September. Tours include stops at historic, cultural and archaeological sites.

Tundra Tours also takes visitors on tundra excursions for bird and wildlife watching, including snowy owls and arctic foxes. Leavitt said there's also a stop at the Inupiat Heritage Center, which features traditional blanket tosses, skin sewing, Inupiat Eskimo dances and a demonstration of traditional Native games.

Beside Barrow's history and culture, geography also is a key attraction, according to Leavitt.

''A lot of people will come up to Barrow interested in the farthest north city and the farthest north point in the United States,'' she said.



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