Frank P. Flavin

Bed Tax

Q. What do you do at Visit Anchorage?

Visit Anchorage’s mission is to attract and serve visitors to the Municipality of Anchorage. In short, Visit Anchorage works to bring all the benefits of travel to our community

Visit Anchorage, is the destination marketing organization (DMO) charged with representing Anchorage and all the communities of the municipality, through the strategic development of the visitor and meetings industries.

Visitors, residents, travel agents, tour operators, media, and meeting planners contact a DMO to receive official destination information. As an unbiased resource, DMOs provide each of these audiences with information to help in their decision-making process.

Visit Anchorage is also a partner for local businesses, helping to educate and promote local businesses.

Q. So what do you sell?

Our organization markets Anchorage. Through our programs, we are able to leverage our collective marketing power for the good of the city and of individual members, allowing many to make inroads into markets they wouldn’t be able to access as individual business.

Q. Why does Visit Anchorage get to use the bed tax?

The bed tax was created to market Anchorage as a destination. Proposed in 1975, the intention of the bed tax was to create a collective Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to attract and serve visitors to Anchorage. In effect, the visitor industry chose to tax itself to fund marketing efforts instead of looking to municipal, state, or federal funds.

Q. Why does the Municipality get some of the bed tax?

In 1979, the bed tax rose from 5% to 8%, enabling the industry to support not only marketing Anchorage, but allowing for a contribution to the MOA general fund.

Today, the 12% bed tax is split three ways:

  • one-third goes to MOA’s general fund;
  • one-third is utilized to service the bond debt and operations of the Anchorage Convention Centers;
  • and one-third supports the marketing functions of Visit Anchorage.

Visit Anchorage’s marketing efforts are supplemented by member contributions through annual dues, paid advertising opportunities and marketing program fees. Visit Anchorage is a not-for-profit company, a 501(c)(6).

Q. How much are you getting from the bed tax this year?

Bed tax collections in 2019 totaled more than $31 million, an all-time high. Annual bed tax collections have averaged more than $26 million annually since 2014, though 2020's collections will be significantly affected by the pandemic and declines in travel.

Q. What do you do with the bed tax money?

Visit Anchorage works diligently to maximize the impact of its marketing dollars. That work takes many forms, from advertising campaigns to build awareness, to sales efforts to entice conventions to book Anchorage and tour operators to build and expand their product offerings here. The end goal is to put tourism's power to work for Anchorage throughout the year.

Read about the multitude of ways Visit Anchorage markets the city by department.

Q. Are you successful?

In a single year, Visit Anchorage:

  • Books more than $90 million in future convention business
  • Generates more than a million visitors to our web properties
  • Assists hundreds of thousands of visitors at our Visitor Information Centers
  • Meets with more than 1 million people through travel agent training and appearances at consumer travel shows

Q. What about oversight?

Visit Anchorage is guided by a volunteer board of directors from the Anchorage visitor industry. These are business people who are committed to furthering Anchorage as a visitor and meeting destination; the organization’s success has a direct impact on their individual business or organization. Directors represent 10 membership categories and are elected by their peers – the member businesses of Visit Anchorage.

In addition to membership elected directors, the Municipality of Anchorage is also on the board. Visit Anchorage provides monthly reports to the board, quarterly reports to the Municipality of Anchorage and an annual Report to the Community that is open to the public.

Q. Why should we invest in tourism marketing?

Destination marketing is a very competitive business. Visit Anchorage’s efforts keep our city top-of-mind with the traveling public, infusing much-needed visitor dollars into our community. These dollars allow for year-round employment and generate revenue for local businesses. It also improves our quality of life in ways beyond the bottom line. For example, visitation might make it possible for restaurants and entertainment options to remain open throughout the year, and added flights serving visitors also give Alaskans more travel options Outside.