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Tourism and Our Economy

Written by: Posted on: December 31, 1969 at 7:00PMPosted in: Main Topic

Tourism development will expand our economic base. It can provide new jobs and economic stability. Tourism can help us diversify our economy not only to industries that directly meet the needs of potential tourists but also in bringing new community services to permanent residents.

Tourism Development for Rural Communities

At the start of the new millennium, tourism was firmly established as the number one industry in many countries and the fastest growing economic sector in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job creation. International tourism is the world's largest export earner and an important factor in the balance of payments of most nations. (1) . In the United States, tourism is the nation's second largest retail industry. In addition, $2 billion in taxes were generated and another $3.4 billion were realized in payroll receipts. Almost 250,000 people are employed in travel related industry.

(1) World Tourism Organization, 2003 (

Rural communities considering tourism as part of their economic base face some important and exciting challenges. Tourism development in a rural community touches almost everyone. Tourists tend to purchase products from a variety of sources--- from hotels, motels, Bed and Breakfast Inn's (B&Bs), restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, craft stores, bait shops, and recreational facilities. The jobs tied to these businesses generally do not require extensive training or skills.

Tourism also provides the basis upon which communities can renew their pride in heritage and the quality of life; traditional crafts, ethnic cultures, historic rites and celebrations are a few examples of "attractions" which are increasingly popular among tourists. Conversely, tourism tends to be highly seasonal, cause disruptions in community traffic flows and may attract certain elements of society which conflict with the values of the community. The challenge, then, it is to encourage those elements which you believe provide the basis for an acceptable level and theme of tourism development while minimizing those aspects which conflict with the values of community life.

Tourism as an Activity

Tourism is traditionally referred to as an industry which comprises attractions, restaurants, accommodations and transportation. However, the tourism industry also includes the local newspaper, grocery stores, card shops, hardware stores and bakeries --essentially all of the stores which make up the economic base of the community.

Today, professionals involved in tourism development focus on tourism as an activity engaged in by people who travel. This activity includes everything from those activities dealing with the planning of the trip, travel throughout the trip, actual "visit" to attractions, as well as memories about the trip. This view of tourism as an activity focuses attention on the reasons why people travel, the activities in which they participate and the role of tourism businesses in facilitating this activity.

A recent report by the McDowell Group prepared for the State Department of Commerce showed cruise ships continue to be the preferred method of travel for Alaska visitors, accounting for 59% of summer visitors last year. Air travel represented 37%, while 4% entered the state via the highway or ferry. Together, this accounted for 1.59 million out-of-state visitors to Alaska in the five peak summer months. The additional seven months of the slower season bring the total to roughly two million.

Air travel has also been impacted by the national recession. Though it decreased 4% last year, overall air travel is 15% higher than the low seen in 2009, at 580,500 visitors.

Highway and ferry travel is a much smaller portion of the visitor level, accounting for only 69,100 people last summer. This is 19% lower than the recent high in 2006. Higher fuel prices over this period have made the long drive much more expensive and likely reduced this method in favor of others.

The report states that bed taxes were up in every community survey. Collections increased 6% in Anchorage, 17% in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 10% in the Mat-Su and 9% in Juneau. This statistic will also include taxes generated by resident travelers and can be impacted by changes in room rates.

As you can see, the tourism industry on Kodiak Island, Alaska provides careers, small business development, entrepreneurship, tax monies, and pride in our community.


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