FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Alaska Travel Industry Association has come up with a plan to combat an expected drop in tourism with an aggressive marketing campaign featuring television, print advertising and direct mail.
Alaska tourism officials say the state is facing a bleak 2002 summer season because of the recession in the Lower 48 and because of travel fears stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks.
''What happens with tourism spreads throughout the economy,'' said Tina Lindgren, ATIA executive director. The group's board met in Fairbanks on Wednesday.
The group says it has a three- to six-month window in which to charm vacation-seekers to the state and away from other U.S. travel spots.
The association previously said it would ask the Legislature for $12.5 million for emergency marketing.
The group's plan has four objectives: encourage those who were thinking about traveling to Alaska to confirm their plans; convince those who were thinking about coming to Alaska but decided against coming to change their minds; generate interest among new target groups; and remind people that Alaska is part of the United States and is safe.
Of the $12.5 million, over $8 million would be spent on commercial and cable television advertising. The ads would use existing film footage so they could be placed as soon as funding is available.
The ads would carry a toll-free number and Web site address for further information.
The television ads would run concurrent with a $425,000 print campaign that would place large advertisements in 25 national markets. Small Alaska tourism businesses could participate in the print advertising campaign, the plan suggests.
The association also wants a $975,000 direct mail campaign to go with the television and print advertising. Direct mail would target 2.5 million independent travelers.
The group is also proposing a public relations tour to promote Alaska among key groups, an enhanced Internet site, industry research, and travel agent training.
The $12.5 million would have to be included in Knowles' supplemental budget requests, Lindgren said. The Legislature, which resumes its session Jan. 14 in Juneau, would be asked to approve the request.
Knowles' spokesman, Bob King, said the governor would rely on the recommendations of his Sept. 11 task force before standing behind a specific dollar amount for tourism.
''We are certainly aware of the problem,'' King said.
Debby Sedwick, the commissioner of the Department of Community and Economic Development and co-chair of the Governor's Task Force on Jobs and Economy Since Sept. 11, said the panel's 15 members support the travel association's plan.
''We recognized early on that tourism could be hit very hard by this,'' she said.
The group's recommendations will be presented to Knowles late next week, she said.
Sen. Gary Wilken, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said he was willing to take a good look at the travel association's request.
''While I want to help them, I want to focus the state's money on the mom and pop businesses,'' said Wilken, a Fairbanks Republican.
Neal Fried, an economist with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the state's travel industry has never had to face such a potential downturn.
''This is a classic case where uncertainty has a negative effect,'' Fried said. ''They (tourism businesses) are obviously going to cut back.''
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