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Tour industry, visitor bureaus to meet in Sitka

Cruise-ship tourists view Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier from a sand bar. The glacier is one of the most popular stops in the capital city.

Cruise-ship tourists view Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier from a sand bar. The glacier is one of the most popular stops in the capital city. (CoastAlaska News)

Leaders of Alaska’s visitors’ industry will gather in Sitka Oct. 7-10.

More than 400 excursion operators, tourism managers and cruise officials are expected to attend the Alaska Travel Industry Association’s conference.

Sarah Leonard is president of the ATIA.

“It’s the annual time where our industry partners and managers gather to learn about trends and projections and network and get excited for the next season,” she says.

The conference offers business, marketing and public relations sessions for those in the industry.

International tourism consultant Lenwood Sloan is a keynote speaker. Leonard says he will address what’s called heritage tourism.

“He’s going to be talking about how communities can weave those characteristics into their destination and help highlight their destinations around cultural tourism,” she says.

Click here for the tourism conference agenda.

Leonard says Alaska’s visitors’ industry is slowly growing, bringing about 1.8 million people to the state. Close to one million tourists cruise the coast, while others arrive by plane, car or RV.

The travel industry association does not have numbers for this year yet. But she says tour operators have told her it was a good summer.

Leonard is optimistic about the 2014 season.

“We see, hopefully, increases in international visitation through some new services like the state’s partnership with Iceland Air and bringing that new air service to Alaska. So we’re very excited about that,” she says.

She says government and private advertising campaigns are increasing interest in the state. She says Alaska “reality” TV shows are also helping spread the word.

 

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