Regional Strategy Development in South East Alaska

Challenge: With its beautiful scenery, historic towns and unique cultural attributes Southeast Alaska is a world class tourism destination for cruisers and adventure travelers alike. But the national recession has dealt the region a serious blow over the past three years. Tourism leaders decided to take advantage of the crisis to mobilize their stakeholders and industry leaders and move into the improving economy with new tourism offerings, new marketing initiatives and new partnerships.

Solution: Working with an ECG economic development expert (Lyman), these leaders established a Tourism Cluster Working Group. Drawing insight from a penetrating economic analysis funded by the U.S. Forest Service, they began meeting to discuss the critical issues and opportunities afforded by the economic downturn, identify new actionable solutions to some of the most pressing issues and launch implementation activities.

Results: In the first few months of the effort, the industry secured a consensus among stakeholders on the most critical issues, prepared business plans for addressing them and took steps to implement six specific efforts. Funding for some comes from the U.S. Forest Service, others are funded locally. While the effort is only a couple of months along at this time, the results are already being seen in the mutual enthusiasm of local stakeholders and potential funders.

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