Growing tourism industry leads to helicopter tour operators expanding, new offerings

ANCHORAGE, (KTUU) - The state of Alaska has a ton to offer when it comes to getting outdoors and seeing the wilderness first hand.

Alpine Air Helicopter

There are opportunities to take a cruise, ride the railroad system, hop in your car and go for a drive, or even take to the skies for a helicopter tour.

But what’s the impact of tourism in the state and are there perks to being an Alaskan resident?

The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development released a report back in March 2019 on outdoor recreation and its impacts and the opportunities it creates.

According to the report, Alaska has the highest rate of participation in outdoor recreation in the U.S. overall (tied with Montana). Participants spend almost $3.2 billion on outdoor recreation trips annually in Alaska.

See the full report here .

A report prepared by the McDowell Group for the Alaska Department of Commerce shows that the visitor industry has shown strong growth over the last decade, reflecting significant increases in visitor volume.

Between 2008 and 2017, visitor volume increased by 15 percent (and by 27 percent since the industry’s low point in 2010), reaching a record of 2.2 million visitors in 2017.

As far as benefits to our economy, Alaska’s out-of-state visitor industry accounted for 43,300 annual jobs in the state in 2017. Peak employment is estimated at 52,000 jobs. The industry generated $1.5 billion in labor income, and $4.5 billion in economic output, over the same period.

In a summer 2016 report by the Alaska Visitors Statistics Program (AVSP) from the Alaska Travel Industry Association, flightseeing (including helicopter tours) was in the top 10 statewide activities are done by travelers.

In the video above, Channel 2 spoke with two helicopter tour companies, Alaska Helicopter Tours and Alpine Air. Each talked about helicopter tourism in the state, as well as what benefits they have to residents.

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