Kodiak’s cruise ship season has come to an end, but the Kodiak Island Convention and Visitors Bureau is already planning for next summer.
Kodiak saw 13 cruise ships come into port this summer, down from 15 in 2011. The Holland America cruise ship Amsterdam was scheduled to stop in Kodiak on Sunday but cancelled due to weather in the Gulf of Alaska. Holland America stopped in Kodiak eight times this summer, but announced earlier this year that it will no longer stop in Kodiak as it focuses on Southeast Alaska.
In 2012, Kodiak also had visits from Crystal Cruise Lines, Silver Seas, Hapag-Lloyd and World of Residensea cruise ships.
KICVB executive director Janet Buckingham estimates that around 13,320 people came into Kodiak this summer on the cruise ships.
Although fewer people came into Kodiak on cruise ships, Buckingham said more tourists came into the KICVB this summer than any summer since 2007.
“It was successful,” Buckingham said. “Overall, we have been as busy as I’ve ever seen with cruise travel and independent travel. It was a very productive, successful year.”
About 5,000 people stopped in the visitors bureau office between April and September, which equals the number of people that stopped in for the entire year of 2008, Buckingham said.
The top tourist attraction requested at the visitors bureau was bear viewing, but Kodiak’s fishing charters were also booked solid.
“I would say the request for bear viewing has nudged out the request for fishing,” Buckingham said. “So many people who come to Kodiak to fish are repeat visitors, so they just call our members directly.”
In the middle of welcoming people to Kodiak, Buckingham has also been working on a new website for the visitors bureau, which is scheduled to be complete late this fall.
The visitors bureau is now putting together a 2013 visitor guide and new brochure to use to send overseas.
“There’s also a new mini-brochure for 2013 to send to European and international inquiries because it’s so costly to send a big one,” Buckingham said.
Starting in October, Buckingham will begin traveling to different tourism shows in the Lower 48 where she is able to showcase Kodiak as a prime tourist destination. Buckingham’s first stop is the Alaska Media Road Show in Santa Barbara, Calif. There she will meet with 25 writers and photographers to talk about Kodiak.
“We can’t buy the kind of publicity we get through these journalists,” Buckingham said. “These folks keep writing for us for years to come.”
Buckingham is also considering traveling to shows in Berlin and Iceland if the budget allows.
To date, only three cruise ships have scheduled Kodiak stops in 2013.