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Chair KC Hostetler, Co-chair Stephen Bradford

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Goal Statement

Increase visitor-related opportunities; enhance Southeast Alaska as a destination for visitors; and capitalize on the attributes of the region.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Southeast Alaska has an abundance of natural beauty, wildlife, and recreation that provide unlimited opportunities for developing tour products and interest to a wide variety of visitors.
  • SE is easily accessible from the Lower 48, and non-stop flights to Seattle are opening up new markets.
  • The Alaska brand for tourism is strong.
  • There is great entrepreneurialism and spirit in the industry.
  • Southeast Alaska people, history, culture, and indigenous art are great draws.
  • Cruise passengers want to return to SE and spend more time.
  • There is a lack of access to public lands, which is a problem because 95% of the region is federally managed.
  • Travel to and within the region can be expensive and logistics can be difficult.
  • There is a lack of a cohesive planning tool to allow people to put together their own trips.
  • Our visitor industry season is short.
  • Communications: Lack of internet and cell phone presence.
Opportunities Threats
  • Increase independent travelers.
  • Increase length of tourism season.
  • Increase percentage of returning visitors.
  • Diversify visitor activities.
  • Increase access to outlying communities.
  • Develop more infrastructure, providing access and ecotourism opportunities, trails, and wildlife viewing.
  • Target Alaska residents for “stay-cations.”
  • Develop more ecotourism products. Examples include scuba diving, surfing, glacier surfing, etc.
  • Increase cultural tourism through the promotion of Southeast as the Northwest Coast Native sustainable arts capitol.
  • Wildlife viewing. Explore opportunities to make our world class whales and bear viewing more accessible to independent travelers.
  • Federal/state regulations and reducing visitor access to land-based excursions and sports fishing opportunities.
  • Underfunded local infrastructure, i.e. communications, transportation, water usage, waste water treatment, etc.
  • Reductions in ferry service.
  • Federal permitting, onerous federal regulations and compliance.
  • Reduced funding to maintain existing recreation programs at state and federal levels.
  • Degradation of Northwest Coast Native art form through unauthorized mimicry.

Visitor Industry Priority Objectives

Priority Objective #1 Market Southeast Alaska to Attract More Visitors

A collaborative regional visitor marketing effort to provide more marketing opportunities, improve brand awareness, strengthen the marketing reach, widen regional coverage of information, and leverage limited resources. Enhance current activities throughout SE Alaska and create new ones that would draw interest from families with children to travel around SE Alaska. 

Other Visitor Industry Objectives

Objective #2 Improve Access to Public Lands.

Provide more recreational opportunities, including developing more trails, increasing the number of permits available, providing more outfitter guide days, and development of new wildlife viewing options on federal lands. Work to change how federal land access and permitting works in Southeast Alaska. Support visitor industry permitting and development opportunities. Increase guided access to public lands by 20%. Protect our current resources and maintain infrastructure.

Objective #3 Increase Flexibility in Terms of Permit Use.

Permits are hard to obtain, and are non-transferrable – making it hard to expand, sell, or maintain business. For example, if a location has 12 permits per day but can’t use a day due to weather, that permit is lost. Because not all permits are used, the number of permits available for the next year get cut. The demand is there but providers don’t get access.

Objective #4 Increase Yacht and Small Cruise Ship Visitations.

Support the re-emergence of small cruise ships and yachts. Maintain port calls for providers like Un-Cruise Alaska Cruises and Alaska Dream Cruises. Provide yacht services in region. Track yachting numbers.

Objective #5 Improve Communications Infrastructure.

Improve broadband and cellphone access in region.

Objective #6 Advocate for Funding to Maintain Existing Recreational Infrastructure

Recreational opportunities were cited in the Business Climate Survey as the #2 benefit to businesses who own and operate their businesses in the region. It is the reason people choose to live in Southeast, and the reason that tourists come to the area. The Forest Service is actively cutting funds to Tongass recreation programs resulting in campground, trail, and public cabin closures. Work collaboratively to reverse this trend.

Objective #7 Grow Cultural  and Arts Tourism Opportunities.

Southeast Alaska has a rich and vibrant Alaska Native culture that traces its roots back 10,000 years. It has art forms that evolved with each region developing distinct features. The visitor industry is incorporating some of this culture, art, and history into its products, but in many ways cultural and indigenous arts tourism is underdeveloped. In the regional business climate survey, when asked about benefits to their businesses, those in the visitor industry were less likely to recognize culture as a benefit to their industry than five other sectors. Support efforts to grow cultural tourism.