Game Board's Predator-Control Decision will Hurt Small Businesses

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / November 9, 2003

Even before the Board of Game's announcement in favor of aerial wolf hunting, the issue has attracted national media attention and negative publicity for Alaska. Now, a statewide tourism boycott seems inevitable, and hundreds of thousands of people may decide against visiting Alaska in 2004.

The last two seasons have seen little to no growth in bookings for the small and mid-sized wilderness-dependent businesses represented by the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association. Our member businesses are guide companies, air-taxi services, back-country lodges and other Alaska-owned businesses that provide the classic Alaska visitor experience tourists dream about. At a time when Alaska is trying to strengthen local economies and promote its image as a wild and natural state, the Board of Game's decision -- and the indiscriminate boycott it may spur -- is not the kind of advertising our visitor industry needs.
Gov. Murkowski campaigned on a pro-business platform, and wilderness-dependent tourism businesses represent a significant potential growth industry. Instead of decisions that threaten this future, what Alaskans really need from the state is more funding for coordinated tourism marketing, tourism planning and partnerships among all sectors of the tourism industry.

-- Anne E. Gore / Executive Director, AWRTA Anchorage

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