The association predicts visitation will be off anywhere from 10 to 30 percent during the state's high season from May to September.
The worldwide economic crisis is at the heart of the expected decline in visitation to Alaska, and is affecting the travel industry nationwide. With more and more people choosing "staycations," the state's travel industry is working hard to demonstrate to consumers that an Alaska trip is a better deal this year than ever.
"The reports we're hearing from our members are alarming," said Ron Peck, president and COO of ATIA. "Bookings are coming in very slowly right now. We're hoping this campaign will change some minds and convince people that a vacation to Alaska is really more affordable and accessible than they may think."
The campaign's centerpiece is the newly developed Web site www.alaskashottestdeals.com. The site will be regularly updated with specials and deals offered by the 1,100 member businesses that make up the association. Television advertising and public relations efforts will also herald the particularly good deals available when you travel to Alaska this year.
"We're seeing seven-night Alaska cruises for as little as $399," Peck said. "You can't even check into a hotel for a week for that little, let alone eat. Between the last-minute travel deals and the fact that 2009 marks our 50th anniversary of statehood, there has never been a better year to come to Alaska."