Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Snips and Quips--News from the March 25 ATIA meeting

Besides doing the business of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, the news tidbits that get shared are interesting!
--"Employee hoarding" is an issue in Alaska, where there is a limited pool of potential employees. Wanatta Ayers from the AK Dept. of Labor spoke to us about state programs that offer workforce development. She explained some jobs like boat captains are in high demand, so creative companies have gone so far as to offer incentives like full-time benefits for part-time seasonal jobs in order to keep employees from wandering...
--Also regarding an already tight job market, Ms. Ayers also shared that for each year of graduates from the University of Alaska system, about 1/3 of them do not enter the workforce in Alaska (they move elsewhere, go on to next studies, or simply don't work). That represents a significant loss to the state, considering the state invests $1 billion a year to run those institutions.
--One political item we'd been tracking was a proposal in the port town of Whittier to steeply increase the tax for those arriving in Whittier, whether by motor coach or cruise ship or car. The city manager who proposed that new tax had quite a learning curve to learn about the legalities of interstate and intrastate taxing. The proposed tax has been re-thought by the Whittier City Council. As a side note, they are now accepting applications for the City Manager job. Having the cruise lines pull out of Whittier would have been an unimaginable worst-case scenario, had that tax proceeded. John Binkley, head of the Cruise Line Industry Association-Alaska did note that for other reasons Norwegian Cruises decided to make Seward their port destination instead of Whittier.
--Juneau tourism companies are on the countdown: 36 days until the first "revenue" ship docks in Juneau--that'd be the first cruise ship arriving for the summer season.
--The news from Alaska Airlines is that it's almost time to start up the summer schedule of 19 daily flights from Seattle, with three daily flights from Anchorage to Fairbanks. After cruisers, the next largest number of summer visitors arrive by air.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The joke goes like this: What do you do when you get a drill stuck in a glacier?

Well, actually the answer isn't a joke: You go to Home Depot and get a bigger drill and supplies, then drive back to the glacier at first light to try to get your other drill out of the ice. That's when happens when you're a glacier researcher. We were fortunate to host and get to know Daniel Fortier, who is a professor at the Center for Nordic Studies in Quebec and also with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It was neat to hear about his adventures at the Matanuska Glacier, just an hour up the Glenn Highway from our B&B.

Malaspina Glacier was "absolutely stunning" this morning!

How big does this glacier look? Our pilot said we had an "absolutely stunning" view of the Malaspina Glacier (northwest of Yakutat) this morning on our flight to Juneau. He also said it's the size of Rhode Island! It was awesome to see the Coastal Range mountains, filled to the brim with glaciers. After our Alaska Travel Industry Association meeting, I had the chance to visit my state Representative, Shelley Hughes with Mat-Su CVB Executive Director and fellow ATIA board member Bonnie Quill. It was my first time seeing the state capitol building.

Off to Juneau, tourism bill looks promising

Just a quick jaunt to Juneau today, hopefully. On the last trip, I ended up being weathered in for several days.  I almost didn't want to go to this meeting for the Alaska Travel Industry Association, but what would that say if I'm not intrepid enough a traveler or Alaska-tough enough to hop an hour and a half flight to Juneau? Getting fogged in to Juneau wasn't scary from a safety perspective, it just threw things out of wack at our B&B for me to be gone an extra two days last time ATIA met in Juneau in January!  Just cross your fingers for me that I'll be home by Thursday, in time for eight check-ins at the B&B!

This ATIA board meeting is being held in Juneau, as we move around the state, so that we can also see how it's going with the Alaska Legislature. The session ends April 20th so we're hoping that a tourism bill passes successfully. Senate Bill 194 has passed the Senate, so we'll have reason to celebrate at the Legislative Reception ATIA is throwing this evening at the famed Baranof Hotel.  This bill would help us move toward sustainable funding and a more stable board. The bill would create a new tourism marketing board that incorporated industry leaders and also state leaders.