Governor Sean Parnell was presented with the Alaska Travel Industry Association Award on Tuesday in Fairbanks.
ATIA is a group based in Anchorage that aims to promote Alaska as a top visitor destination, communicating and promoting the Alaska tourism industry as one of the state’s major economic forces. Board member John Binkley spoke at the Alaska Travel Industry Association Convention and Trade Show. He presented the governor with the award.
“To recognize him for the care that he has about Alaskans who are employed in this industry. Whether it’s the retiree that works on a fixed income that works as a summer tour guide to build a little extra income, whether it’s the taxi driver who works a second job to support for their family, or a student who works all summer in tourism to help pay their way through college. Those are the people Governor Sean Parnell cares about. Those are the people that Governor Sean Parnell fights for and that’s why we’re here to give him this award.”
Parnell has made the Alaskan tourism industry a pet project of his. Applications for new tourism-related business licenses and license renewals increased from 19 in 2009 to 144 in 2013. Binkley attributes the success seen in the travel industry to Parnell’s pro-business tax regime.
The biggest attraction to Alaska, Parnell says, isn’t necessarily the landscape or the people, but rather the experience.
“So I thank you, not just for sharing those wonderful mountains and beautiful Northern Lights, but I thank you for creating something inside each person who comes to this state, something very special.”
Parnell says the tourism industry accounts for 46,000 jobs in Alaska. He says those jobs are what fuels the state’s economy as well as individuals.
“More than 100 million dollars contributed to the State of Alaska’s coffers, plus 79 million dollars in local taxes. Huge impact. You also know we’ve recovered as an industry. For the summer of 2013 to the fall winter of 2014 our numbers show over 1.9 million visitors statewide, that’s through April of 2014. That’s an all-time high.”
Parnell says the Alaska travel industry can count on him to continue to stand with them.