, Alaska tourism businesses warm-up to an evergrowing winter market, WorldNews | Travel Wire News

Alaska tourism businesses warm-up to an evergrowing winter market

Alaska has long crawled with visitors in the summertime months. Now, more folks are hopping aboard the Alaska Railroad for winter tourism here, too.

The amount of passengers taking the train between Anchorage and Fairbanks during cold, snowy months has shot during the last couple of years up. The railroad has added more train service to support them. Some tour companies have beefed up their winter offerings to court such visitors even.

One driver is tourists visiting from Asia, on hopeful trips to start to see the aurora borealis often, said Dale Wade, vice president of marketing at the railroad.

“Winter is quite popular suddenly, and it’s growing going back 3 years steadily,” said Wade. Before that, there wasn’t a “significant market for this,” he said.

Ridership on the Alaska Railroad’s winter passenger trains grew 33 percent between your winter of 2015-16 and the next winter, said spokeswoman Meghan Clemens. That’s “the biggest single jump year-over-year,” she said within an email.

For years, winter passenger train service between Anchorage and Fairbanks typically only ran on the weekends from late September through early May. In 2014, the railroad added midweek trains between your two cities and there were more departures added since, said Clemens.

In the wintertime of 2012-13, there have been 66 days of winter passenger train service. Compare that to 102 days this year.

It’s not rail passengers just; Over a lot of the final decade, Alaska visitor numbers in the wintertime and fall have already been increasing overall. Visitor volume in the wintertime and fall grew 33 percent between your 2008-09 season to last year’s, according to the McDowell Group, an Anchorage research firm.

The Chinese market has “exploded” during the last several winter and fall seasons, in accordance with a McDowell Group report.

One Anchorage company, Alaska Skylar Travel, targets bringing Chinese tourists to Alaska. The continuing business has its roots in Beijing, also it targets the Mandarin-speaking market.

In its first winter, the continuing business had about 350 clients, said operations manager Glen Hemingson. That true number has since swelled, reaching about 5,000 clients last season in its fourth winter, and the staff is continuing to grow.

Hemingson largely credits the company’s marketing efforts, a lot of which occurs in China.

“We see visitors from more Southeast Parts of asia increasingly, like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore,” Hemingson said.

“I believe Alaska is really a favored location for Asian visitors, regardless of the conflicts that appear to be arising between U politically.S. and China relations,” he said. “We’re enjoying the sweet spot among that.”

, Alaska tourism businesses warm-up to an evergrowing winter market, WorldNews | Travel Wire News

, Alaska tourism businesses warm-up to an evergrowing winter market, WorldNews | Travel Wire News

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Alaska has been {attempting to} strengthen its ties with China, too. {This year earlier,} former Gov. Bill Walker’s office announced new year-round direct passenger flights between Anchorage and the northeast China city Harbin, set to start in 2019.

And it’s {not only} tourists from {Parts of asia} {that are} taking the railroad to {start to see the} northern lights and snowy mountains. {The very best|The most notable} markets for winter visitors riding the trains {will be the} U.S., Australia, China, {Canada and taiwan,} said Clemens, with the railroad.

There’s been so much added {fascination with} taking the train {through the} winter that it’{s &ldquo been;}a little frustrating” for reservation agents, she said.

One simple explanation for booming winters?

“It’s beautiful,” said Adriel Butler, co-owner at Borealis Basecamp, located outside Fairbanks. There, people can {stay static in} geodesic domes with big windows for aurora-gazing from the comfort of a bed.

“Cities {aren’t} beautiful when it snows,” he said. “Cities {certainly are a} jumbled mess when it snows. Whereas when you’{re out in rural or remote-ish {kind of} environments {where in fact the} snow is undisturbed,|re out in remote-ish or rural {kind of} environments {where in fact the} snow is undisturbed,} it’{s beautiful incredibly.}”

Sarah Leonard, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, said she’s noticed more winter offerings from tourism companies here.

“We’re seeing {a rise} in popularity in people {attempting to} {start to see the} aurora,” she said.

At Alaska Skylar Travel, things started {predicated on} tourists’ {need to} come {start to see the} northern lights, Hemingson said. But {since that time}, it {is continuing to grow} {to provide} more. {Which includes} city tours, {dog and snowmachining sledding.}

“We’re offering more tour opportunities {through the} winter for activities, {in Fairbanks particularly,}” he said.

Last winter, {year of operations in its first,} about 60 percent of Borealis Basecamp’s guests were from Asia, said Butler. {Year this,} {not even half}. There’s been an uptick in visitors from {the low} 48, Canada, and Latin America, he said.

Growing passenger service {in addition has} been a financial bright spot at the Alaska Railroad, which {after some duration} ago was {fighting} a declining revenues and had layoffs last year.

“The freight is {this type of} large {part of} our business, {however when} they decline, {the entire} revenues of our railroad decline,” Wade said. “But passenger business has been {quite strong}.”