Overall, Alaska had 1,966,700 tourists visit the state between May 2013 and April 2014. The previous high was in 2007-2008 when 1,961,500 visited the state.
Kodiak’s numbers didn’t correlate to that high, however.
“Looking at 2012 and 2013, I can see the numbers are not up due to economic factors that were out of our control,” said Discover Kodiak director Chastity McCarthy in an email.
This was due in part to the ferry, the Tustumena, being out of commission during 2013, which led to lower visitor center traffic.
However, 2014 is already looking good.
“Cruise ships are up, visitor inquiries are up, shipments of visitor guides are up to the point where this year, we’re going to have to order more,” McCarthy said. “Usually we order 45,000 visitor guides and they get sent out within the year. This year, we’re going to have to order 50,000.”
McCarthy said last year seven cruise ships visited Kodiak. The cruise ship in port Tuesday was the eighth this year, and two more are scheduled to make stops before the end of the season.
Those seven cruise ships last year brought 4,080 passengers to Kodiak. This year, the eight cruise ships so far have brought 6,100 passengers, McCarthy said in an email.
Last year, there were 4,900 visitors to the visitor center. This year, 4,793 people have come through the doors so far.
For the whole state, fall and winter tourism is the highest it’s been in at least a decade, according to the report. Alaska received 273,000 fall and winter visitors in 2013-2014. The fall/winter season was from October 30, 2013 to April 1, 2014.
The previous year saw 264,100 and the year before that 266,800.
Starting this year, Discover Kodiak will be specifically targeting winter tourism to Kodiak.
“It’s the first time we’re really going to try to approach that market, because we see that it has been working really well in the state of Alaska,” McCarthy said.
“Discover Kodiak’s never really had the ability to market tourism in the winter because of our budget, but with an increase that we saw this year, we’re going to be marketing winter tourism for the first time.”
The visitor’s guide will feature a two-page spread on winter tourism, something it hasn’t had before. Discover Kodiak will be marketing northern lights viewing and trails for enjoying winter sports.
“There’s a whole winter group that’s all about creating winter trails,” McCarthy said. “We have that to work with now that we didn’t have a few years back.”
Discover Kodiak is also working on bringing in more business travelers and increasing rural representation in the visitor’s guide.
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.