ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Some Alaska residents and businesses are finding potential benefits in the likelihood of a summer free of the usual influx of tourists as a result of the coronavirus.
Social distancing measures and quarantines as a result of the global pandemic have effectively eliminated the possibility of the state’s normal summer deluge of out-of-state visitors, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.
At Denali National Park and Preserve, residents discussed positive aspects including discounts for locals and roads free of RVs.
“Think of how much fun Talkeetna is going to be when there aren’t hordes of people in the middle of the street,” said Rebecca Pottebaum, referring to a town south of Denali.
The state’s boosters insist the limited tourist numbers could enhance the summer experience for those already in the state.
“One thing great about here in Alaska is we have these wide open spaces where you can be with your family or a single household, and then also social distance when you need to,” said Sarah Leonard, chief executive of the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
In addition to a $25 million request in federal COVID-19 recovery funds for a national campaign to market Alaska to visitors, the association appealed for an extra $1 million to run an in-state campaign reminding residents they can vacation at home.
“This is a great time — if you can do it safely and you’re right here in Alaska — to visit a place that you might not have visited before,” Leonard said.
Mark Begich, co-chair of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s economic recovery team, said they endorsed the in-state marketing.
“There’s going to be Alaskans who will want to take that road trip that they haven’t been able to do in years because they never could get a reservation, or they couldn’t get access, or the tour was sold out,” Begich said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.