New Tourism Marketing Formula Will Boost Industry
Governor Signs SB 254 to Lower Required Match to 50 Percent
August 13, 2004
"We want to support the visitor industry's success in creating jobs and generating revenue for our state by attracting tourists," Murkowski said. "This agreement will help encourage the long-term health of this important sector of the economy and the thousands of tourism jobs it generates in our state."
Senate Bill 254, sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault (R-North Pole) and signed by the Governor, lowers the required industry match to 50 percent from 60 percent. The bill demonstrates the state's ongoing commitment to work with private industry to market the state to visitors from the Lower 48 and around the world.
Under the "Millennium Plan," the state has matched contributions from the Alaska Travel Industry Association since 2000 through contracts with the Department of Community and Economic Development. The tourism industry provided $6 million to qualify for $4 million from the state in 2003, in part by drawing down its savings. But when ATIA fell $700,000 short of its 60 percent required match in 2004, the Governor decided to veto $700,000 in special state grant funds for ATIA from the FY2005 budget, and to seek ways to ensure the state could continue to support the industry in the future.
"A deal's a deal, and it's important for both sides of such public-private partnerships to uphold the terms of the agreement," the Governor said. "This 50-50 split is consistent with the state's seafood and other public-private marketing efforts. I believe that the new match levels outlined in this law will allow both sides to reliably meet their obligations under this marketing plan, and continue to leverage our funds to market Alaska to domestic and international visitors."
Representatives of the tourism industry were pleased with the new law, and expressed confidence the industry would be able to provide the required match.
"We're very happy to see the Governor recognize the importance of tourism to the state, and applaud his efforts to work with the industry and the Legislature to continue providing this critical state support," said Ron Peck, president and chief operating officer of ATIA. "This bill makes it easier to access the funds we need to help all sectors of Alaska's tourism industry remain healthy."
The 941 members of ATIA represent predominately small- to medium-sized Alaska tour businesses. The funds provided by the members, matched with state funds, allow these businesses to market to national and international travelers in ways that they could otherwise not afford.
Murkowski said the new funding formula will help ATIA overcome the lingering effects of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and boost all sectors of the visitor market, including highway, airline, cruise ship passengers, independent and adventure travelers, fishermen and wildlife viewers, and others.
"By supporting marketing for Alaska's tourism industry, we are helping businesses large and small to grow, creating more jobs and strengthening our economy," Murkowski said. "I'm pleased we've found a way through this legislation to continue the state's positive partnership with this industry, and to support the jobs that it generates for Alaskans."
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