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Alaska Tourism Photos

Visitors view glaciers in Prince William Sound

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Alaska is a large state that offers beauty and adventure to the visitor. Since the 1920's, Alaska has had a tourism industry and today is the second major resource for income. At Alaska Stock Images, you will find a wide variety of Alaska photos including Alaska tourism photos. To find more pictures of Alaska's popular destinations, visit our search page.

Early Alaska Tourism
Early tourism by way of steamship
As early as 1917, tourism had a earmark in Alaska's history with the establishment of Mt. Mckinley National Park. The years between the world wars saw the first dramatic increase in Alaska tourism. Perhaps the major contribution was the increase in popularity of the automobile. Package tours came into existence as visits to Alaska gained popularity, and in 1921, the Alaska Steamship Company teamed up with the Alaska Railroad and Alaskan-owned motorcoach companies to offer a tour known as "The Golden Belt Tour." One group of steamship tourists disembarked at Seward to take the railroad to Fairbanks, while the second group was let off in Valdez to travel the Richardson Highway to Fairbanks. The groups would then cross paths in Fairbanks, each returning by the other's route.
Tour bus at Keystone Canyon
Tour Bus at Keystone Canyon

Federal support began through a Presidential visit in 1923 by Warren G. Harding in support of the Chugach National Forest. The President came to formally open the Alaska Railroad, but while in Alaska he visited Valdez and traveled the Richardson Highway to see the famous Keystone Canyon. While in Cordova, he visited Miles and Childs Glaciers on the Copper River by Northwestern Railway. Publicity from the presidential visit increased interest in the Prince William Sound as a tourist destination.

Although tourism did suffer a decline during the thirties due to the Great Depression, the continued belief by Alaskan entrepreneurs in the future of Alaskan tourism has lead to a continued increase ever since. The following was taken from a full page advertisement that ran weekly in The Valdez Miner and demonstrates the earliest attempts at tourism marketing:

    The Richardson Highway . . . traverses the famous Keystone Canyon, 13 miles from Valdez, whose grandeur and scenic beauty are rarely excelled anywhere in the world. . . . Nor are the beauties of this route to the Interior confined to Keystone Canyon. Climbing the easy grades beyond to the summit of Thompson Pass, there is unfolded to the view a vast panorama of jagged, snow clad peaks interspersed with narrow valleys clothed with almost tropical verdure. . . . Mountain and glacier, plain and forest, rippling brooks and mighty rivers, some as clear and sparkling as the diamond, others gray or brown with the silt which the mighty glaciers at their heads have ground from their rocky beds. Verily, no trip in all Alaska, nor in all the world offers more to the tourist than this trip from Valdez to Fairbanks over the Richardson Highway (TVM, 9/6/40).

Thompson Pass Photos
Thompson Pass

Today, tourism is one of the top industries and an enormous amount of businesses, local, regional, and national, rely upon the visitors that swell the states population each year. With nearly 1.9 million visitors, the gold seekers and steamships of the past have been replaced with adventurers of all ages seeking their own unique experience today. About 48% of visitors arrive by domestic airline carriers and 36% by cruise ship. The average vacation stay is 11 nights in Alaska and the average age of visitors is 52 of which 53% are male. The average amount of dollars spent in Alaska by each visitor is $1600 – that's over $320,000,000 each year!

Tour in Denali National Park
Tour in Denali National Park

The balance between maintaining a pristine environment and supporting the masses of visitors each year continues to present challenges. One solution has been the initiative by Denali National Park to limit automobile travel within the park to contracted buses and permits. Cruise ships also experience their own troubles and controversies regarding inundating cities with too much "Disney World-like" atmospheres and accusations of expelling the grey/black water from the ships into the waters of Alaska. However, as oil production begins to decline, it is agreed and very clear that tourism will continue to play an increasingly important and necessary role in Alaska.

Holland America Cruise Ship
Holland America Cruise Ship

Books of Interest:

Mr. Alaska, the Chuck West Story: Forty Years of Alaska Tourism, 1945-1985

Compass American Guides: Alaska's Inside Passage

MOON HANDBOOKS ALASKA (Moon Handbooks : Alaska-Yukon)

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