- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A new state audit recommended that Alaska’s tourism marketing board be dissolved.

The state auditors suggest a tourism-marketing program akin to the one used by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute be instituted in place of the board, the Juneau Empire reported Monday.

The institute does not receive funds granted by the state. Instead, it markets Alaska’s seafood by levying a fee on fish caught in the state. That money is spent on a collective marketing effort for the seafood industry. The audit called for a similar tourism program where the state would indirectly levy a fee on tourists brought here.

That money would pay for a collective marketing program currently funded by state grants.

“The Alaska Tourism Marketing Board was the right equation at the time it was created,” said Colleen Stephens, chairwoman of the board. “As we evolve in life, so does tourism.”

The Alaska Legislature has encouraged the switch. Last year, the Alaska Senate’s Labor and Commerce Committee drafted a bill to create an ASMI-like structure for tourism. If approved, the bill would allow sectors of the tourism industry to levy a fee upon themselves. The fee would be between half a percent and 2 percent of their total assessed gross revenue each year. The cost could be passed on to tourists, but if it is, the bill requires that cost to appear on receipts.

The bill is still a work in progress, though. Stephens and Republican Sen. Mia Costello of Alaska said a new draft of the bill will be released soon.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com


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