2019 was a record breaking year for Anchorage tourism

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 5:35 PM AKST
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Come spring, the smell of reindeer dogs and fresh flowers fill the air in Anchorage, as tourists fill the streets -- and 2019 was a record breaker. According to Visit Anchorage, a 2.5% growth in flight passengers, and a 12% growth in cruise arrivals contributed to the record breaking numbers.

President & CEO of Visit Anchorage, Julie Saupe presented the 2019 annual tourism report to the community Thursday at the Dena'ina Center. She says hotels in Anchorage outperformed the national average significantly. According to the report, hotels saw more than $300 million in revenue last year, and that's not including the $297 million visitors spent during their stay.

"Not only hotel performance, but also on taxes that go into the city coffers. Both the bed tax and the vehicle rental tax combined brought in about $38 million for the city of Anchorage," said Saupe.

In addition, Saupe says increasing winter traffic has been a big focus over the past few years, and the 2019 winter season saw a 6% growth -- something felt by area hotels.

"We were only a little bit slow in November, and I thought that was really important because everybody kept saying, 'the tourism season is over with for you guys are you going to slow down?' We didn't," said Vice President of Operations for Hotel Captain Cook, Raquel Edelen. "We kept our housekeeping staff employed. We did not let them go anywhere at all and usually after the summer season, that's when you see some of them go because they need to find other jobs for the winter. We needed them and we were busy."

It's a tall order headed into 2020, but tourism leaders are up for the challenge.

"We think 2020 is also going to be a fabulous year. We've got great meetings coming in, we've got, still, the increased capacity in our airlines. We might see a slight reduction in cruise ship berths, but we still expect we're going to have a great year, as long as the national economy stays strong, and we have reason to believe that international traffic will rebound a little bit for all of the United States, and Alaska should benefit from that as well."

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