Downtown Anchorage seen with the Alaska Range to the north.
Ken Graham

Alaska Summer Visitor Study Released

Friday, May 19, 2017

The state of Alaska has released the findings of its 2016 summer visitor intercept survey. Conducted by McDowell, the Alaska Visitor Statistics Program is Alaska's most comprehensive visitor report. The full report is online through the state's Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

What Is AVSP?

The Alaska Visitor Statistics Program 7 includes research on all aspects of Alaska summer visitation. The report is a valuable trove of information about the demographics, preferences and habits of Alaska travelers. It explains who comes, how and when they book, what they do while here, and satisfaction with their experiences. That’s just the tip of the iceberg: it provides the most detailed information about regional differences in visitation, and nuanced information about visitors and their habits crosstabbed against a whole host of interests, travel patterns, and Alaska locations.

Why Should I Trust It?

The findings incorporate extensive surveys conducted with real travelers during intercepts across the state in the summer of 2016. Put plainly, it’s the best single resource for information on our travelers.

How Do I Use It?

It may be tempting to skim the executive summary and call it a day. But the detailed data is a far greater prize for businesses. The summary profiles are much more specific. Want to drill down to visitor habits in Southcentral, or even those in individual cities and towns in the region? It’s there. Need to get in the mind of a cruise passenger? Yep. Repeat visitors, small ship cruisers or B&B guests? Yes, yes and yes.

Where should I start?

At minimum, review the Southcentral Alaska Regions and Communities summary profile. The information is much more specific about your visitors than the statewide information.

For example, Southcentral travelers (and those who include Anchorage in particular) are much more likely to be independent travelers, who didn’t purchase a package. Anchorage also gets a whopping 92 percent of the state’s fly/drive visitors, those who entered and exited Alaska via air and rented a vehicle. That information alone could inform a whole year’s marketing, and it’s merely the beginning.

Why Should I Care Now?

This study is typically only conducted every few years, and with the state budget being what it is, it is unclear when we might get another update. The study is most applicable to business decisions now and for next summer. The older the data gets, the less useful it will become.