Alaska's tourist industry to target winter

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska visitor industry is preparing to spend $1.2 million on a national television campaign to market Alaska as a year-round destination.

Commercials will appear on cable networks like the Discovery Channel promoting Alaska as a place where adventure never ends.

It's part of an aggressive, multidirectional strategy the visitor industry plans to launch this fall to promote Alaska as a winter destination.

The president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, Tina Lindgren and others detailed the campaign at the third annual winter tourism conference in Anchorage on Tuesday.

Alaska has no shortage of products to offer winter tourists, such as skiing, dog mushing, ice fishing, northern lights and flightseeing. But industry observers contend it hasn't done much of a job packaging and promoting the attractions as part of a statewide effort.

Places like Whistler, British Columbia; Sun Valley, Idaho, and the Reno-Lake Tahoe area of Nevada have done a better job at marketing themselves as winter destinations, said Eric Borland with Polaris Marketing Group.

Alaska could learn a lot from Reno-Lake Tahoe, in particular, because it has much in common with Anchorage in that it offers urban and rural activities and targets Washington state, Oregon and California tourists, Borland told the audience.

Reno is trying to shed its gambling image and has reinvented itself through marketing to highlight the surrounding mountains and desert.

''Your Natural Selection,'' beckoned one tourism ad that Borland showed in a PowerPoint presentation. ''Enjoy the Magic of our Mountains'' and ''Earth, Wind and Fire,'' read other ads.

British Columbia described itself as ''Super Natural'' and ''Spectacular By Nature.''

Alaska needs to develop a similar theme, something that will stick in the public's mind, much like Budweiser has done with its ''King of Beers'' slogan, Borland said.

It also needs to engage the airlines, the cruise industry, the travel media and others in getting the word out that Alaska doesn't shut down after summer, he said.

The state provided $4.8 million of the travel association's $6.9 million budget this year, Lindgren said.

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