State officials are distributing $10 million to nonprofit visitor marketing groups around the state, hoping to jump-start the 2021 summer season. Mat-Su’s Convention and Visitors Bureau received $170,385.
Bonnie Quill, director of the Mat-Su bureau, said her group will solicit in-state visitors as well as targeting messages to selected out-of-state communities.
Quill said the state money will allow an existing digital media initiative to be expand as well as launching a first-ever program to advertise the region on television within Alaska.
The grants were awarded June 1 by the state Department of Commerce Community, and Economic Development, or DCCED, after a review of proposals from regional marketing groups. The state agency had solicited proposals from regional tourism groups using federal COVID-19 aid with a goal of boosting summer visitor season
Gov. Mike Dunleavy would like to see a lot more spent on tourism, the governor said earlier this year, but approval by the Legislature is needed. Lawmakers are still in Juneau working on next year’s state budget.
Dunleavy has his own tourism campaign underway using funds from the governor’s office, pitching Alaska as a safe place to visit this summer with declining COVID-19 infection rates and a high rate of vaccinations among residents.
Quill said criteria for the grants require all groups to reenforce the “safe destination” statewide theme although each region is free to boost its own attractions. For the Mat-Su, an extensive network of hiking trails particularly in Denali State Park, is worth bragging about as well as the Hatcher Pass area and Matanuska Glacier.
“The ($10 million) COVID-Safe Travel Grant program is a competitive, multi-award, grant designed for rapid deployment of marketing campaigns to promote Alaska as a COVID-Safe travel destination for the Summer of 2021,” the DCCED said in its June 1 announcement.
“The CSTG allows for marketing efforts to target in-state, independent, national, or international travelers and markets,” the agency said.
“We received many great proposals and are thrilled to provide this grant funding to Alaskan nonprofits to advance the efforts of promoting COVID-safe travel to and within Alaska this year,” said Julie Anderson, commissioner of the department.
The grant proposals were assessed for quality, overall responsiveness, ability to deploy a marketing campaign no later than June 15, 2021, and regional representation, Anderson said.
The following entities were selected for grants: Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau – $170,385; Explore Fairbanks Alaska – $348,640; Discover Kodiak – $31,107; Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center – $253,489; Seward Chamber of Commerce – $179,000; Visit Anchorage – $1,630,000; Ketchikan Visitors Bureau – $527,790; Cordova Chamber of Commerce – $376,000; Koahnic Broadcast Corporation – $451,580; Alaska Travel Industry Association – $1,999,279; Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council – $410,000; Visit Sitka, Sitka Chamber of Commerce – $235,200; Travel Juneau – $574,000; Kawerak, Inc. – $941,885; Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau – $88,290; Spruce Root, Inc. – $1,560,000; Copper Valley Development Association – $140,000; Haines Economic Development Corporation – $83,355