This is a year of transitions in Alaska tourism, one that will produce both minor adjustments and game-changers that will alter the market in the years to come.
Two tour companies are changing how they will move tourists in and out of Fairbanks.
Princess Alaska Tours and Holland America told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that visitors to Denali National Park will cover the trip north to Fairbanks by bus rather than rail car starting in 2014.
Princess will begin the change this year. Spokesman Bruce Bustamante said a two-hour bus ride instead of a four-hour train ride should boost visitors’ time in Fairbanks.
“It just provides a greater flexibility for our customers to get in a few hours earlier and free up more time,” Bustamante said.
Tour packages will continue to offer the rail trip from southcentral Alaska locations to Denali Park.
A railroad spokesman said the decision should not cost the line revenue. Tim Sullivan said by email that some travelers will choose the train ride aboard Alaska Railroad cars at a fare that will provide more revenue than a ride on tour company cars.
Holland America spokesman Erik Elvejord said the company also will change how it moves tourists From Fairbanks to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. The company will abandon daylong bus rides over the rugged Taylor Highway for flights.
Wildfires and floods have hampered travel on the mostly gravel Taylor Highway in recent years.
“It’s a spectacular highway, and it’s beautiful up there,” Elvejord said. “But the flight is nice too, because that drive is a long haul.”
Whitehorse-based Air North spokesman confirmed that it has been in talks with Holland America but said it could release no details of possible 2014 routes.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com. Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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