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ALASKA TOURISM OFFICIALS EXPECT BANNER YEAR; BUT VAST STATE STILL HAS PLENTY OF ROOM

 ALASKA TOURISM OFFICIALS EXPECT BANNER YEAR;
 BUT VAST STATE STILL HAS PLENTY OF ROOM
 JUNEAU, Alaska, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Alaska Division of Tourism:
 For those vacationers still contemplating a summer trip to Alaska, rest assured there is still room at many hotels, lodges, or bed and breakfast homes around the state, according to state tourism officials. Predictions as to the final number of visitors Alaska will host this summer are still preliminary, but a check around the state showed hotel rooms and camping spots available.
 In Fairbanks, the convention and visitors bureau said hotels have vacancies through August. "Business is definitely up throughout Fairbanks and the Interior, but we're not booked every day all summer long," said Cliff Rousell with the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau (FCVB). "We have accommodations available for the independent traveler especially at bed and breakfast homes. About the only area where we're really tight is in the RV campgrounds."
 In Anchorage, Keith Fernandez with the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) said Anchorage hotels tend to be booked in the summer with only a 10-percent vacancy rate. "That doesn't mean there aren't rooms, it means people should make advance reservations," he said. Questions about room availability should go to the ACVB at 907-276-4118. In emergency situations, when hotels are completely full, the ACVB offers an information hotline that lists other available lodging. That number is only in effect if an emergency exists.
 Rousell said the FCVB also offers a hotline for those travelers looking for hotel space or for those arriving in town without hotel reservations. The telephone number is 907-456-5774.
 Visitors planning to go to any other community, likewise, should call ahead for reservations. For example, Susan Bell, director of the Haines Convention and Visitors Bureau in Southeast Alaska, said Haines has plenty of space at both hotels and camping spaces in the four state parks. "As we get calls, I encourage people to be flexible, plan ahead and think of places like Haines, which are a little bit off the Alaska Highway but very accessible with lots to do. I think they need to know they can enjoy the places that are a little bit off the beaten path."
 "Travelers shouldn't believe recent news that Alaska is completely full," said Wendy Wolf, deputy director of the Alaska Division of Tourism. "We're a very big state and its hard to fill us up. While it may be difficult to get into Denali National Park, it is possible to visit a number of equally wonderful parklands throughout Alaska offering exciting hiking, wildlife viewing and camping opportunities.
 "What visitors should understand, however, is the fact they need to make advance reservations no matter where they go in the state," she said.
 Wolf cited a recent state study that audited the number of hotel rooms traditionally available in summer months. The study said the occupancy level during the peak period (June through August) is 82 to 91 percent statewide. In Southeast, the number of rooms available during the same time period ranged from 56 to 89 percent, and in Southcentral (including Anchorage), room availability ranges from 65 to 96 percent.
 Rousell said the highly rated television series "Northern Exposure," coupled with Alaska's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, has driven up demand for travel to Alaska this summer. "Northern Exposure" portrays Alaska as unique, strange, wonderful and exotic. "It piques the viewer's interest," he said. Other factors contributing to the surge in Alaska tourism include American travelers' desire to forego costly European vacations and stay closer to home.
 So what can they expect if they come to Alaska? Abundant wildlife -- including bald eagle watching in Haines, whale sightings in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska and dall sheep sightings along the cliffs of the Seward Highway near Anchorage -- beautiful vistas and unique experiences not found anywhere else in the country.
 Wolf said anyone thinking about a trip to Alaska should plan ahead by calling or writing for a copy of the official state vacation planner. Contact the Alaska Division of Tourism, P.O. Box 110801, Dept. 913, Juneau, AK 99811-0801, or call 907-465-2010, ext. 21.
 -0- 6/23/92
 /CONTACT: Wendy Wolf of the Alaska Division of Tourism, 907-465-2012/ CO: Alaska Division of Tourism ST: Alaska IN: LEI SU:


SC-LA -- SE006 -- 2681 06/23/92 08:15 EDT
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Date:Jun 23, 1992
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