Anchorage tour operators cater directly to increased Chinese tourists

Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 6:45 PM AKDT
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It’s tourism season in Alaska and that means the bars, restaurants, and all of the picture worth destinations are packed with folks from out of state and overseas.

But over the past five years, a particular group of tourists has been flocking to the 49th state, enough so that businesses are catering directly to their home country.

When you compare 2011 to 2016, the number of visitors to Alaska from China jumped by more than 2,000 according to the Alaska Tourism Industry Association. For Skylar Travel, catering to Mandarin-speaking visitors makes Alaska even more appealing.

But what is it about Alaska that drives Chinese tourists to travel over 5,000 miles? Is it the glaciers, the wildlife or the northern lights?

“Alaska has always been my dream place I would like to visit and I saw a lot of amazing things here like glaciers, beautiful mountains, Denali Mountain and brown bear,” says Chloe Chen, a visitor from Los Angeles.

She booked her tour of Alaska with Skylar Travel, a tour operator that focuses on guests from the Lower 48, China, and Australia.

"As long as they speak Chinese, they are our clientele," says Jin Chen, Skylar Travel’s chief operating officer.

Chen says that in the past few years, social media has been a huge reason why Chinese tourist is headed to the last frontier.

“Once you tag your location you're in Alaska and you are doing all of these amazing things, it means a lot to them. We get a lot of requests where people are sending us pictures and say we want to go here," he says, "And obviously, they are getting that information off of social media."

So much information on social media that Alaska’s normal off-season is becoming a peak time for Mandarin-speaking tourists.

And as for the tourist that visited from L.A.?

Chloe Chen says, “We will come again.”

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