News from the Alaska Geotourism Initiative

[Above: Lake Naknek, gateway to Katmai National Park. Photo courtesy Bristol Bay Borough]

Fall 2014 Update

The Alaska Geotourism initiative is a collaboration convened by University of Alaska faculty and program specialists and now includes rural tourism business and community leaders focused on identifying viable rural economic development management strategies that maximize beneficial tourism for their communities and seek to further good destination stewardship. Another outcome is to provide a source of information to re-introduce Alaska gateway communities to the US and international geotourism communities.

The following is a brief overview of Alaska geotourism projects currently underway.

1. Community Familiarization – Alaska Geotourism is looking at strategies to promote rural Alaska for those regions/villages that see geotourism as a viable approach to maintain community health and community viability. The communities of Naknek and King Salmon in association with the Bristol Bay Native Association will be hosting a familiarization tour for some small tour operators to visit the Bristol Bay region (Salmon Capital of the World and also gateway to Katmai National Park)

Bears feed on salmon, Katmai National Park. Photos: Adelheid Hermann

to participate in a planning session with village leaders to help plan the geotourism strategy for their communities. (See also


Local communities want to grab more bear-watching tourists flying into Katmai.

2. New Educational Curriculum – The University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development faculty member Cathy Brooks, Assistant Professor & Faculty Advisor for Festival of Native Arts Advisor ( is currently developing a geotourism class for undergraduate students. It will be offered both campus-based and distance. Jonathan Tourtellot and Larry Dickerson of University of Missouri have been project advisors.

3. OLE in cooperation with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service is presenting a non-credit 4-part course entitled Geotourism: Preserving a Sense of Place at the Anchorage Extension Center with hopes to introduce the geotourism approach to a wider Alaskan audience.

4. Cultural Exchange – The Asian Alaskan Cultural Center representing 8 Asian communities is working with the communities of Seward, Fairbanks and Wasilla to bring the story of 1890s Japanese Alaskan pioneer, Jujiro Wada, back to Alaska in 2015 via a musical play/cultural exchange in those communities. Wada, from Japan, was an early Alaskan adventurer, early explorer, and marathon runner and much much more ( )

For more information, contact: Alaska Geotourism Chair Willard Dunham via

3 thoughts on “News from the Alaska Geotourism Initiative

  1. Strategic waterfront native allotment lands with road and power line access at Lake Camp, Katmai National Park now provide an opportunity for Bristol Bay Traditional Governments (in mentorship and partnership with logical and trusting entities in the region) to own and operate in-park concessions as well as provide village tours to the surrounding First Nation communites. The Nov 18 2014 Naknek workshop regional debate question “Is a Tradional Government owned and operated eco/geo/green visitor center located on various native lands in the Lake Camp KNP area a good ecomonic development project for the Bristol Bay region?” and though the SWOT anaylsis and sufficient local village leadership participation, we should see light shed on this question. A big Thanks! to UAA/UAF, BBNA, and other volunteers for the FAM tour and Naknek worshop event.

  2. The other Naknek workshop debate question is “Does King Salmon, Bristol Bay Borough have the necessary components to establish a successful geotourism tour beyond the Katmai National Park?”

  3. Alaska is a wonderful place that need more people commenting on their rich experiences. Tony keep up the good work?

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