The Alaska 2020 Stay-cation

The pandemic is affecting everyone in different and in too many cases, tragic ways. However some are only inconvenienced and are looking for new plans for the summer, and perhaps those plans will help others hurt by the collapse of our summer tourist industry. I’m going to be spending more time and money in Alaska than I’d planned rather than the trip out of state that’s been cancelled. Its going to be a summer for a “Staycation” and the list of things I could do for the same money I’d budgeted are exciting!

Cordova has been a destination for years to visit and research the history of the Copper River and NW Railroad. A train trip to Fairbanks and more time in Seward are already on the list. I might even go on the Chena river paddle wheel boat! I’d like to know about your plans and perhaps you will want to help create an Alaskan “Staycation” Plan – visit this survey to share your ideas. [survey now closed]

Why am I interested in the idea of a staycation and posting this? There are a surprising number of people living in Alaska who have not done many of the things our tourists come here to do and return home to tell others about how much fun they had, such as riding the train from Anchorage to Seward! Other ideas including: taking a flight-seeing trip over Kink Glacier and Lake George, taking the 27 Glacier or Kenai Fjords Tours, visiting Cordova, driving to McCarthy and hiking to the Jumbo mine; or, a flying to a remote fishing lodge, just to start the list.

Yes there are many Alaskans who would rather leave the crowds behind and are self sufficient, but there will be no crowds this year. We get to enjoy some of the activities the world comes here to visit and rather than just tolerating need reservations for dinner and waving at the tourists as the train goes by, is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but it seems too “touristy” and unAlaskan to be a visitor to where you live?

More importantly, if you know the plight of the small independent tourism businesses, you are aware that they get a lot of price and marketing pressure from the integrated out of state tourism businesses and not much benefit as the profits flow out of the state, as well as the workers at the end of season. (They own the ship, buses, hotels, restaurants everything about the visit including the profits while convincing us that any taxes would hurt us…right… )

We could be helping other Alaskans and have a substantial impact that would directly benefit businesses that are not part of the out of state based industry that has abandoned the state for the summer. Alaskans can’t replace the 1.5M visitors originally expected this year, but for Alaskan based businesses, our impact could be the difference between surviving or not, maybe even thriving, and we’d get to see new parts of Alaska. Afterwards, we’ll all be even better promoters of our state and the adventures we’ve had that could inspire people to come back next summer.

How could our state and industry marketing dollars be directed to Alaskans, AND incentives for Alaskan discounts, packages, bingo cards.. may be a contest or two… ‘have you done…. x,y,z’ Could some of the $1.2B in windfall funding be used to help our Alaskan based businesses not just wait out the “hunker down”, but help them quickly investing in pivoting to a new market, offer new services that will be resilient in the future, or better yet reconfigure their operations to meet new expectations for health and social bug sharing?

I believe there are enormous opportunities not being explored with current funding, if you can get it, focused on propping up the old economy and leaving businesses with new debt. I’d like to do something different than wait for an old-normal to return. That old-normal was really not working that well either if you’ve paid attention to the price of oil and our state fiscal situation, and that old-normal is not coming back anyway. But we are here and not leaving, and we can help speed up the recovery of our Alaska owned businesses and perhaps help create stronger and new businesses that will thrive in the future even if there is a 2nd wave or another bug in the future.

For Alaskans here to stay, and our innovators, its time for a Stay-Cation Plan of Action for the spring and summer of 2020. Take this quick survey and share some of your ideas and perhaps your time to help build this plan. [survey now closed]

3/9/21 an update on alaska plans…. some are starting to see a new path.

An example of the innovation and entrepreneurial mindset a company can adopt to adapt to the disruption to survive and eventually thrive.

Updates – some suggestions from Scott M

More from Scott.

Some tourism restart and revitalization thoughts:


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