Survey shows tourism's role on peninsula

Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005

Tourism is a big deal on the Kenai Peninsula. Much of our economy is derived from those willing to spend their time and money in our neck of the woods.

Still, it comes as no surprise to find the second highest number of those who come to play are actually already living in this state.

Alaska residents made up just under 10 percent of those surveyed by the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council to identify tourism trends in 2004. Topping the list of those who visit were Californians at 21 percent.

The marketing council did its best to corner different angles, surveying in person and on the phone.

Most tourists said they found out what there was to do on the peninsula by searching on the Internet. What a powerful tool that has become for a place so far from the mainstream.

As communities, we do our best to get the word out — through festivals, fishing derbies and special events — but pictures speak for themselves. It's the scenery that grabs people initially, although word of mouth can be pretty powerful, as well. According to the marketing council, about 40 percent of all the people surveyed were influenced to visit the peninsula by friends and relatives.

Family can be pretty persuasive.

Here are other interesting facts the survey revealed:

Almost 60 percent of those surveyed in-person who visited the central peninsula will also visit the eastern peninsula, and about 50 percent of those will visit the southern peninsula. About 73 percent of Anchorage residents surveyed visited the central peninsula.

For people who were interviewed in person, sightseeing was their primary recreational activity while visiting. It also was the number one activity for which they would return.

Although summer months are the obvious choice for tourists to visit, it was August, not July that earned higher numbers — 70 percent came in August, nearly 10 percent more than July.

The primary recreational activity on the peninsula — by far — for Anchorage residents was fishing.

Other statistics that are rather interesting are that the majority of the tourists who were surveyed said they did not plan to or want to relocate to the peninsula. They also found a variety of issues they felt had room for improvement, such as transportation services and how much their dollars could buy.

On the other hand, friendliness and recreational opportunities got high marks. No surprise there.

The survey will be used to target where market dollars should be spent — what to enhance and what needs work. The marketing council plans to start a peninsula awareness campaign.

From the looks of the roads full of RVs and vehicles pulling travel trailers and campers, we'd say there are plenty of people aware of what the peninsula has to offer.

On a related note ...

It's the businesses on the peninsula that help draw the tourists in, too. That's why students at Ninilchik are able to offer "Alaska Dream Trip 2006" as their school fund-raiser.

Dream trip is the perfect phrase for this adventure — 10 days of travel, fishing and lodging on the Kenai Peninsula for two fortunate people.

The winning ticket holder and a friend will travel by air from anywhere in the contiguous United States to Anchorage and then drive to Seward for a Kenai Fjords tour, then to Ninilchik to Chihuly Charters for salmon and halibut fishing in Cook Inlet, followed by fishing for halibut with Butt Chasers, a Ninilchik charter, then an evening seafood barbecue, an overnighter on the Homer Spit, a day of halibut fishing with Lucky Pierre Charters, then fishing with Captain Steve's Saltwater Charters out of Anchor Point. The journey then moves to Soldotna, with Harry Gaines Kenai River Fishing Guides. The last host of this dream trip is the Timber Wolf Lodge on the bank of the Kenai River in Soldotna. The lodge is providing deluxe overnight accommodations, a day of fishing for king salmon on the Kenai and a day of fly-out bear viewing.

Deep Creek Custom Packing has donated processing of all the salmon and halibut caught.

Can you imagine a more ideal vacation? Your chance for all of this is a $25 ticket.

And while the trip will be experienced by only two, the rewards will be for many, as Ninilchik students will get half the proceeds to fund extra-curricular activities.

That's a lot of peninsula people coming together for a great cause. Sounds like a win-win situation to us.

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