A campaign to get Alaskans to try new activities close to home starts today. With so many tourist businesses on the line, Explore Fairbanks, the local visitors office, is making its marketing local.
About one in eight Alaska jobs is tied to the visitor industry, according to the Resource Development Council. And until this year, more than half of them, about 1.2 million, arrived by cruise ship. Amy Reed Geiger, Director of Communications for Explore Fairbanks says the loss of those customers will be profound.
“Generally, we are marketing to national and international markets, and this year, there is no national and international market to speak of.”
Many Interior businesses are in jeopardy due to the severe limitations COVID-19 has placed on air, cruise and border travel. Amy Geiger says some of them will not be able to stay in business through the summer.
“We just want them to be able to weather this storm and come out the other side, in the sunshine, keeping their businesses intact.”
Starting today, the visitors office is placing a heavy emphasis on local activities for Interior Alaskans. Similar to a “buy local” campaign, Explore Fairbanks will be inviting residents to “Explore Local,” and make a special effort to patronize these businesses who normally see a lot of visitors.
“Where we are usually trying to get people to come to Fairbanks, now we are trying to get Fairbanksans and local Alaska residents to partake.”
The Explore Fairbanks website calls out the area’s four distilleries, four breweries, and multiple museums. There is a “things to do” tab as well as a tab to “explore the area.”
“Getting a guide to take you on a hike, going out to the Gold Daughters and go gold panning, walking with the reindeer out on Goldstream Valley, or going to a shop and doing some Christmas shopping now.”
Geiger says a blog post today will cover a lot of the new procedures businesses are following for hygiene and spacing.
“Visitor businesses are working very hard to create secure environments for guests. A lot of them are advocating for face masks, a lot of them are following very significant cleaning procedures.”
Explore Fairbanks is surveying businesses on how ready they are to host Alaskans as visitors, and will be posting information on the website, such as special hours for vulnerable customers, if reservations are required, or if seating is limited.
The campaign will reach out to military families, and folks new to the Interior, but also to those who have lived here a long time and haven’t seen it recently through the eyes of a tourist.