Four tour busses stopped in the city of Kenai on Wednesday a move that area tourism supporters hope is only the beginning of increased tourism traffic to the city.
Armed with more than 130 passengers, the busses were part of Anchorage-based Premier Alaska Tours route down the Kenai Peninsula. It made Kenai Landing part of its tour as it transported visitors to and from the cruise ship Clipper Odyssey which was docked in Homer.
Mya Renken, executive director of the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tour busses on the peninsula often pass the city of Kenai and travel straight to Homer.
She is hopeful that Kenai Landing will help change that.
"The more places that are able to accommodate groups of that size will make it more attractive for people to stop," Renken said.
She said when busses stop in Kenai, it's usually part of a historical part of a tour. The busses usually stop at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center and do a tour of Old Town Kenai, she said. However, the more options there are, the more reasons there will be for busses to stop, she said.
Stefanie Gorder, senior vice president of Premier Alaska Tours, said when her company stops in Kenai, it is usually to look at the history of the commercial fishing industry. In the past, it was difficult to do dock tours for large groups, she said. Now, Kenai Landing has the commercial fishing facilities and is ready to show them to visitors.
"They're getting a feeling for Alaska not just passing through," she said.
Gorder said Wednesday's stop at Kenai Landing went well and she can imagine that her company may stop at Kenai Landing a few times per week.
Jon Faulkner, co-owner of Kenai Landing, said he had hoped to attract tour busses to the facility but was not sure if it was what tour operators were looking for or if it would be a viable business opportunity.
"I think part of what we've gone through here is a wait-and-see evaluation period."
He said he is seeing that tour busses may become a good opportunity. He added that Premier really liked stopping at Kenai Landing.
"They needed to see it actually work, and it's working," Faulkner said.
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