Visitors have record economic impact

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
tourism.jpg Tourism in Anchorage hit record marks in 2000 with bed taxes totaling $10.8 million, up from $9.9 million in 1999, according to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The group presented its results for 2000 during a Jan. 18 luncheon at the Egan Civic & Convention Center. ACVB officials also outlined priorities for 2001, including a push for a new convention center by 2005.

RIM Architects in Anchorage was chosen in November to complete a study on a possible larger center, said Bruce Bustamante, ACVB president and chief executive. The firm is working with a business that specializes in designing convention centers, LMN Architects of Seattle, and a report is due May 25, he said.

The first public meeting on a proposed new convention center is set for 4-8 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Egan Center, he said.

About $5 million from the 2000 bed tax collected is contributed to the city’s general fund, ACVB officials said.

The year of record-setting results included $82.3 million in economic impact from conventions in Anchorage last year, said Bob Neumann, vice chairman of the ACVB board of directors. For figures from 2000 ACVB has started using a new formula from the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus to figure the economic impact of conventions.

The new formula lists delegate spending at $405.39 for a state delegate; $839.53 for national, international or regional delegates or $1,044.32 for a trade show delegate over an average of 3.59 days.

Using the old formula, 2000 would have recorded $70.8 million in economic impact, ACVB reported. In 1999 total economic impact from conventions was $51.4 million, down from $59.1 million in 1998.

In 2000 ACVB serviced a total of 778 conventions, compared with 492 in 1999 and 472 in 1998.

One important annual event and the city’s largest convention is the Alaska Federation of Natives meeting in October, he said.

"The state market continues to be our No. 1 source for conventions in Anchorage," said Neumann, owner of Grizzly’s Inc., a downtown retailer.

Competition for state meetings is on the rise due to an increase in hotel beds, he said.

For example, this summer 362 new hotel rooms are due to come on line.

ACVB also books conventions for upcoming years, and in 2000 ACVB booked conventions totaling an estimated $70.3 million in economic impact using the new formula.

Using the previous formula for deriving economic impact of conventions, 2000 would have registered a $60.1 million economic impact compared to $70.2 million in 1999.

ACVB also tallied a high in tourism sales for 2000, Neumann said. In 2000 tourism sales were $80.6 million, up from $77.1 million in 1999. However, tourism sales includes only visitor business tracked by ACVB and not the total impact of leisure visitors to Anchorage, he said.

Membership at the marketing organization reached 1,394 last year, up from 1,384 in 1999.

Anchorage tourism this year should be buoyed by current hotel renovations, as well as the upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games March 4-11.

"The opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Winter Games provides an opportunity to showcase Anchorage to a watching world as athletes, coaches, family and friends head to Anchorage, Alaska, for the largest event that has ever been hosted by our city," Neumann said.

ACVB officials also listed the group’s goals for 2001, which include increasing tourism and convention revenue, and marketing the city as a year-round visitor destination. The group also aims to boost the community’s awareness of the benefits of the visitor industry.

01/27/2001 - 8:00pm