Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Visit Anchorage had recently conducted a roadshow in India. This is the second consecutive year that Visit Anchorage representatives came to India to promote Alaska and its many unique tourism products in this market. Marsha Barton, tourism sales manager, Visit Anchorage stated, “We are seeing many more Indian visitors each year and we are hearing from our members in the tourism industry businesses that they are noticing a great increase in visitors from India.”
According to Susan McKenzie, manager – charter, group and international sales, Alaska Airlines, the year 2013 has seen a growth of 10 per cent in terms of arrivals from India, over the previous year. Most of the Indian visitors head for Alaska from Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles or San Francisco. They fly down to Anchorage and take tours from there. Alaska has two international airports – at Anchorage and Fairbanks. Many Indians take the cruise from Vancouver or Seattle.
Majority of the cruises go through south east Alaska. In 2012, 1.85 million tourists visited Alaska, of whom 51 per cent entered on cruise ships. There are many excursions in south east Alaska for cruise ship passengers. “This is a big emerging market for us. We are really hoping to grow this market,” said Moire Duggan, travel trade marketing manager, Alaska Travel Industry Association. This association represents all the travel agents and tour operators in the state.
While the first time Indian visitors prefer the summer months, winter time in Alaska has its own attractions. For instance, the Aurora Borealis that is visible from late August to mid April. “Every Indian is now looking for new destinations. The awareness has increased as Indians are looking for new places to visit and there is a growing awareness regarding Alaska,” said SK Mittal, executive director, ETA Travel Agency, GSA for Alaska Airlines in India. The itineraries range from three days to seven days. He informed that there has been marked growth from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. The interest is not just the destination but for events like Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Anchorage now has some Indian restaurants also.