The number of people booking hotel rooms in Anchorage rebounded last year but didn't recover to pre-recession levels, according to city statistics.
Also, the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau sold more than $93 million in future conventions in downtown Anchorage -- missing its sales target by just 2 percent. The soft bookings were attributed to reduced sales for the more expensive international meetings. Sales from national and local conferences and public events exceeded expectations, according to the bureau.
Overall, last year turned out better than expected for tourism in Southcentral Alaska, said Julie Saupe, the visitors bureau president, during the bureau's annual year-in-review luncheon.
She estimated that hotel tax revenue increased by more than 10 percent in 2010, reaching about $19.9 million. It's a preliminary number because tax receipts from the final three months of the year aren't available yet.
Saupe predicted "challenges and uncertainty" for the tourism industry in the coming year due to economic troubles in Europe that could have a ripple effect in the United States.
But Saupe pointed out that air and cruise ship traffic to Anchorage will increase this year.
Last year, Holland America brought the 1,380-passenger Amsterdam to Anchorage -- the first large cruise ship to make regular port calls at the city for many years. This summer, the Amsterdam and two other cruise ships will call in Anchorage. Also, two airlines -- Jet Blue and Edelweiss Air -- will launch flight service to the city. Jet Blue will fly between Anchorage and Long Beach. Edelweiss will fly between Zurich and Anchorage.
Find Elizabeth Bluemink online at adn.com/contact/ebluemink or call 257-4317.