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Magazine names Sitka among best small towns to visit

The Holland America ship Westerdam prepares to unload passengers in Sitka in the early morning hours of July 4, 2012. (KCAW file photo by Ed Ronco)

The Holland America ship Westerdam prepares to unload passengers in Sitka in the early morning hours of July 4, 2012. (KCAW file photo by Ed Ronco)

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Sitka is one of the top 20 small towns to visit in the United States this year.

Sitka came in at No. 9 on the list, just after Los Alamos, N.M., and right before Provincetown, Mass.

city rankingsTonia Rioux is executive director of the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says the ranking is different than a lot of other, similar lists, that rely on public votes. Smithsonian Magazine’s list is based on data, measuring the number of historical and cultural attractions in a community.

Rioux says her organization will use the list to add to its marketing efforts.

“We’ve contacted other media that we have a mailing list, basically, for, to let them know,” Rioux said Friday. “Also, it’s created some renewed interest in Sitka for additional stories. There will be some travel writers who want to pick up on this. Hopefully, Sitka will get more exposure that way.”

As cruise ship traffic has declined to the city, the local tourism industry has looked to independent travelers to help. Rioux says attention like this can only help.

“This is a huge part of our local economy, and keeping Sitka a beautiful and healthy place to live requires that a certain amount of money comes in from the outside as well,” she said. “It would be very difficult, if not impossible for us, at least at this point, to completely self-sustain. Bringing visitors in and getting this type of exposure helps with sales tax numbers, it helps with a variety of stores that we’re able to enjoy as locals.”

Sitka is the only Alaska community on this year’s list.

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