Tourism is a fast growing and dynamic industry in Alaska. Every year Alaska is visited by more than one million tourists. Apart from this the Alaska has about 14,000 new residents annually. Alaska has more than 75 parks which include national parks, preserves, refuges and monuments along with many historical sites, national forests and state parks.
History of Tourism
Alaska was attracted by travelers in the mid century, but it is believed that people from worldwide travelled there long before Alaska was discovered. In 1880s more people came to know about Alaska and were attracted to this place by the lectures and articles on Alaska tour given by the travelers who enjoyed its beauty. In 1884, a 27 years old traveler from the Midwest named Eliza Ruhama Scidmore visited Alaska and after her return, she wrote series of articles in newspapers and magazines worldwide regarding her travel experience. These articles were published together as a book which was used as the standard tourist guide for more than 2o years. To honor her, a peak near Mount St. Elias was named as Mount Ruhama.
In 1884, The Pacific Coast Steam Ship Company was involved in advertising beauty of Alaska and they also organized excursion trips to Alaska. The excursion trips were one month long for a cost of 130 dollars from San Francisco and 98 dollars from Seattle which included steamship passage, meals and accommodation. The Alaska was visited by about 1,650 travelers in 1884. 1n 1886, about 2,753 tourists visited Alaska and the number increased to 5,007 in 1890. In 1917, February 26, the McKinley Mountain and large area surrounding it was designated as a national park “The Mont McKinley National Park” which is the Alaska’s first National Park.
In 1920s and 1930s, tourism in Alaska became more convenient after the completion of its railroads. 1n 1929 the total number of tourists who visited Alaska were 30,000. The Alaska Tourism Industry started growing in a faster way after the Second World War. In 1948, the Alaska Highway known as “Alcan” was opened to public traffic and the total number of passengers who traveled on the highway that year was 18,604. The number increased and reached 49,564 in 1951. The development in Alaska’s air services made tourism more convenient. In 1963, a ferry system from Prince Rupert, B.C. to South East Alaska Port began which further improved the tourism facility. In 1983 Alaska was visited by about 650,000 tourists.
- Hunting: It is an activity with great wilderness and thus has attracted hunters from world wide to Alaska.
- Dog sledding: It includes travelling over ice in a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs
- Hiking: It includes walking in the Alaska’s natural environment.
- Skiing: It includes many activities using skis as an equipment to travel over snow.
- Sight seeing: It allows you to discover the beauty of glaciers, mountains, historical sites and other spectacular sceneries.
- Sea kayaking: It is a sport of paddling on open waters, lakes in a small boat with covered decks.
- Bird Watching: it is an activity of great enjoyment and enables us to watch wide variety of birds.
- Fishing: Fishing is a thrilling activity which every tourist really enjoys in their Alaska tour.
- Wildlife viewing: Wildlife viewing is an important attraction which allows tourists to view the animals in the forests of Alaska. It also includes Whale watching.
Important Tourism Locations
- Denali National Park and Preserve: It is six million acres large and situated in the interior Alaska and has abundant wildlife, glaciers, and vast expanses of sub Arctic Tundra along with the mountain peak, Mount McKinley or Denali. It is the second largest National Park of U.S.
- Mount McKinley: Mount McKinley or Denali is the highest mountain peak of North America which towers 20,320 ft above the peaks of Alaskan range. The snow covered massif of Mount McKinley is spectacular scenery.
- Glacier Bay National Park: It is located in the Southeastern Alaska and its marine wilderness include snow capped mountains, tidewater glaciers, deep fjords etc.
- Alaska State Museum: It was established on June 6, 1900. Its exhibits include many articrafts, natural history specimens, art objects and many other items which give us information on Alaska’s native people, American period, Russian America, Alaska’s natural history and so on.
- Skagway: It is the northernmost stop along the Alaska Marie Highway inside passage. The Klondike gold field and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park are the major attractions of Skagway.
- Fairbanks: The most important attractions of Fairbank are University of Alaska Museum of the North, Alaska Highway, Alaska land pioneer museum, Gold Dredge No.8 etc.
- Other important attractive sites include the Anchorage, Seward, Girdwood, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Kenai Fjords, St Michael’s Cathedral, Katmai National Park and Reserve, Aleutian Islands etc.
Significace of Tourims
Tourism increased the employment opportunities in Alaska. By 1975 tourism offered about 7,500 job opening in Alaska. At present more than 30,000 people are employed in the tourism sector. Tourism industry also contributed a lot towards Alaskan economy. In 2003, tourism contributed five percentage of Alaska’s gross revenue.
Alaska Tourist Attractions
- Mendenhall Glacier
- Ketchikan (General)
- Juneau--Mendenhall Glacier
- Exit Glacier
- Alaska Native Heritage Center
- Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
- Earthquake Park
- Kenai Visitor 's Center
Things to Do in Alaska
- River Rafting
- Glacier Viewing
- Dog-Sled Rides
- Gold Panning
- Aurora Borealis