Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy on Monday proposed $5 million in new funds for the state’s tourism industry, citing impacts of the pandemic.
Dunleavy announced during a press conference that the budget, which comes from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, will be part of his budget for the fiscal year 2023 and will be directed towards Alaska Travel Industry Association.
According to a report, this is in addition to the $1 million Dunleavy has said he’ll seek in the budget for the Alaska State Parks to keep the facilities “clean and accessible” for tourists. These allocations require approval by the Legislature.
A release from Dunleavy’s office stated that while tourism in the state isn’t yet at pre-pandemic levels, the industry anticipates a busy time in 2022. In the release, the number of travelers who passed through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport between June and May of 2021 was 875,000, more than the same timeframe last year.
Furthermore, 2,813 additional non-resident licenses to sport fish were sold in this year than 2020. Bed taxes and revenues from guest rooms increased during the third quarter of the fiscal year.
The rebound follows a challenging year for the travel industry in Alaska due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Dunleavy described as “nothing short of devastating.”
“Once again, we’re looking to the future to make sure that we can save our industry,” Dunleavy said. “We know that Alaska is a premier destination for tourists from all over the world, and we wanted to make sure that we could get back up on our feet.”
The funds build on prior state initiatives to revive the tourism industry in Alaska in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In November, the U.S. Economic Development Administration approved a $10.5-million funding grant. It will be used to support the state’s tourism, travel, and outdoor recreation sector. It was granted by the Legislature in its third special session, according to the governor’s office.