Hard Rock Cafe

North to Alaska? The rush is on.

ALASKA LAKE HOOD SEAPLANE BASE

It’s now not Klondike-generation gold nuggets they’re after, but the gold that comes from mining tourism.

Airlines, cruise groups and chains consisting of Cabela’s and the Hard Rock Cafe are heading north to Alaska hoping to cash in on a growing tide of visitors to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

After three consecutive years of growth, Alaska’s vacationer remember reached an all-time high of almost 2 million guests among May 1, 2013, and April 30, 2014, consistent with the Alaska Division of Economic Development.

Those 1,961,seven-hundred site visitors beat the 2007-20008 report via five,000 people.

“For many national brands including Hard Rock, Alaska felt too a long way away to be relevant to increasing a national presence and plenty of concept it might be too hard to run a a hit branch in the state,” said Calum MacPherson, location vice president of operations at Hard Rock International, “but we’ve visible a shift in current years.”

Hard Rock now sees Anchorage as a “thriving, up-and-coming metropolis this is uniquely positioned with a growing and flourishing cruise commercial enterprise” he said. He also stated that the local populace become indexed via the Census Bureau as having the kingdom’s second-maximum median earnings in 2011.

After a soft opening early this summer, the Hard Rock Cafe Anchorage could have a grand establishing Sept. 19 at its downtown Anchorage location at Fourth Avenue and E Street, which is wherein the lengthy-distance Iditarod sled dog race starts offevolved every year.

Hard Rock Cafe Anchorage_courtesy Hard Rock International

Earlier this 12 months, Cabela’s opened a 100,000-square-foot keep in Anchorage promoting hunting, fishing and outdoor gear with wildlife presentations, an aquarium, indoor archery variety, a mountain reproduction, deli, fudge save and different traveler-friendly points of interest on-website online. Bass Pro Shops, with a wetlands nature middle, stuffed animals, an aquarium and other tourist-pleasant functions, opened an outpost in July.

The new tourism record for Alaska became boosted with the aid of will increase inside the range of cruise site visitors, extra air service, growth in iciness tour and an aggressive country-led tourism advertising and marketing marketing campaign, stated Joe Jacobson, director of the state’s Division of Economic Development.

Close to 1,000,000 site visitors toured Alaska by way of cruise deliver ultimate year, lured by way of remarkable surroundings, now not to say a discount within the state’s passenger head tax from $46 to $34.50.

“After that, many ships returned to Alaska and new ships entered the marketplace,” Jacobson stated. Holland America introduced departures that introduced 6 percent extra visitors in 2013 over 2012, Celebrity Cruises sent one of its new Solstice Class ships to Alaska for the first time and new ships entered the market, he said.

Increased air carrier helped Alaska increase tourism numbers as well. Virgin America and Icelandair entered the market with carrier to Anchorage, and numerous other companies (JetBlue, United and Delta,) elevated the quantity of their Alaskan flights.

One number that isn’t growing is the age of the average tourist.

The maximum recent Visitor Statistics Program file that checked out demographics (2011-2012) found that the average age decreased barely, from fifty one.6 to 50.7, among 2006 and 2011.

“The glaciers took my breath away,” stated Renee Brotman, a management train and organizational consultant from Goodyear, Arizona, who recently visited Alaska on a cruise and is already planning a go back experience. “Juneau and Ketchikan are such captivating small towns. You can stand inside the center of the street and appearance up and see superb mountains all around you.”

Looking ahead, Alaska’s Division of Economic Development doesn’t do a proper tourism forecast. “But due to the fact adjustments in cruise deliver deployment have a giant effect on the Alaska visitor marketplace—fifty one percentage of year-spherical traffic and 59 percentage of the summer season market—cruise enterprise schedules for Alaska provide a very good indicator of what to anticipate,” stated Caryl McConkie, the company’s development professional.

Cruise Lines International Association Alaska anticipated that the nation will see 972,000 cruise traffic at some point of 2014, compared with 999,six hundred for the duration of 2013, due in component to the redeployment of two Princess ships to Asia.

“Strong early bookings for 2015 indicate that we may also make up for a number of the loss of passengers in 2014,” McConkie stated, “Princess is replacing the Island Princess with the bigger Ruby Princess in 2015, growing decrease berth capacity by way of just over 1,000 passengers consistent with voyage.”

Climate change may help the 2016 cruise season heat up as nicely.

Since the Nineties, excursion-style cruise agencies consisting of Polar Cruises, have presented sailings on smaller ships (with as much as 199 passengers) that go away historically plied Alaska waters to discover Iceland, Greenland and sections of the Northwest Passage, which connects the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.

In 2016, Crystal Cruises plans to be the primary luxury line to navigate the Northwest Passage direction.

During a cruise from Aug. sixteen to Sept. 17, 2016, the sixty eight,000-ton Crystal Serenity, which carries 1,070 passengers, will tour from Anchorage/Seward to New York City, through Arctic waterways traditionally no longer navigable by means of massive ships.

On its internet site, Crystal explains that a cruise is now possible due to the fact the “amount of ice in the Northwest Passage has declined notably over the years, specially at the quit of the summer time in the southern reaches of the Passage,” developing a window of time while its thirteen-deck vessel will have minimum hazard of walking into “ice concentrations.”

Prices for the voyage begin at $19,975 per character.

(My story approximately tourism in Alaska first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior).