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NORTHERN TOURISM OFFICIALS CRITICIZE REPORTS OF STATE DEPARTMENT TRAVEL ADVISORY

 NORTHERN TOURISM OFFICIALS CRITICIZE REPORTS OF
 STATE DEPARTMENT TRAVEL ADVISORY
 ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Bernholz & Graham on behalf of the Alaska Division of Tourism:
 Tourism officials in both Alaska and Canada reacted strongly today to reports of a travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department, which indicated travelers might have trouble finding accommodations along the Alaska highway in the Yukon Territory.
 "We've read the advisory and frankly we're mystified as to how reports could be so misleading," said Connel Murray, Alaska's director of tourism.
 One report widely circulated in Alaska, stated flatly that finding a motel or a gas station in the Yukon can be tough. Not necessarily true, said Murray.
 "We've been monitoring the situation closely, and while we are expecting a banner year because of the 50th anniversary celebration of the construction of the Alaska highway, we have no indication that travelers will have problems finding accommodations and other services."
 Murray's views were echoed by Klaus Roth, director of tourism marketing for Canada's Yukon Territory. Roth indicated the Yukon has been aggressive in increasing its ability to accommodate visitors. As an example, he cited the expansion of existing R.V. parks and campgrounds, and the addition of new ones to accommodate the expected increases in traffic. He also noted the Alaska highway, which gained fame as the "Alcan" when it was constructed through virtual wilderness in 1942, is now paved through most of its nearly 1,500-mile length.
 He also stressed that while the highway did, indeed, traverse the Yukon's "frontier country" -- as the travel advisory described it -- services for the motorist were more than adequate.
 "After all, people have been driving this highway for half-a-century now and we've had to generate the facilities to take care of them including hotels and motels, rural lodges, gas stations and service facilities and medical facilities," stressed Roth.
 Murray said the State of Alaska had also been taking the necessary steps to accommodate expected increases in highway travel. Waysides and parks have been upgraded and an ongoing highway improvement program is underway as weather permits, he said.
 Additionally, Murray countered points made in the advisory about the highway:
 -- There is no point on the highway where there is more than
 97 miles between gas stations, and the average is closer to
 55 miles;
 -- Almost every town along the highway has medical facilities. The
 greatest distance between medical facilities is 150 miles; and,
 -- Gas prices throughout Canada are higher than the United States.
 On the highway, prices average $2.19 per U.S. gallon, certainly
 not triple most U.S. prices.
 Murray also said telephone and mail inquiries were pointing to a longer-than-average season on the highway. Businesses that serve motorists have been alerted to be prepared for visitors arriving earlier than usual, and departing later.
 -0- 2/7/92
 /CONTACT: Connel Murray, director of Alaska Division of Tourism, 907-465-2012/ CO: Alaska Division of Tourism ST: Alaska IN: LEI SU:


JL-DM -- LA010 -- 8043 02/07/92 08:02 EST
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Date:Feb 7, 1992
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