The state of Alaska is looking at ways to encourage UK visitors who experience the destination through day excursions from a cruise to extend their stay.
Jesse Carlstrom, development specialist from the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, said: “Arrivals from the UK average at 30,000 a year, and 87% of that number visit Alaska as a port of call on a cruise.
“While we know lots of cruisers say that the shore excursion only whet their appetite, and many decide to book a separate visit to Alaska when they get back home, we would like to encourage cruisers to perhaps end their cruises at Anchorage and explore the state on a post-cruise tour and then fly back home.
“Air access from the UK has increased significantly over the last few years, thanks to Icelandair’s flights from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester, with plans for a new twice-weekly service from Birmingham in February next year. The options are there.”
Operators are also putting their faith in the state as it prepares to celebrate 100th-year anniversary of its largest city Anchorage, with special events and first-time historical exhibits that chronicle the city’s growth from pioneer outpost to modern city, as well as museum displays that pay homage to 18th-century British explorer Captain Cook.
For 2015, Thomas Cook has introduced a new 14-day self-drive tour though Alaska and the Yukon, while Steppes Travel has added Alaska for the first time. Discover the World has launched its first Alaska Winter Collection with three tours that include Alaska Winter Adventure, Aurora in the Alaskan Arctic and Northern Lights and Hot Springs.
Finally, Cox and Kings has added a nine-day Alaska self-drive itinerary that starts in Anchorage and journeys up to Fairbanks via Denali National Park before looping back round to Anchorage via the fishing port of Valdez and Prince William Sound.
Carlstrom added that 50% of bookings to Alaska were made through travel agents.