CIRI sells tourism businesses to Alaska Denali Travel

Cook Inlet Region Inc. announced March 11 that it has sold its tour and resort subsidiary CIRI Alaska Tourism to Viad Corp., which also owns Alaska Denali Travel.

CIRI President Sophie Minich said in a statement that the award-winning cruise tours and lodges that make up CIRI Alaska Tourism, or CATC, have always been a source of pride for the Alaska Native regional corporation and that CIRI believes the quality of business will continue under Viad’s ownership.

Viad President of Travel and Recreation called the opportunity to grow its Alaska business “truly exciting” in a release from the company.

“We strive to connect travelers in a meaningful way to genuine experiences. CATC’s strong team, amazing experiences and exceptional guest service will only further our ability to create unforgettable adventures in one of the most unique places in the world,” Barry said.

Phoenix-based Viad, which has marketing and travel business groups, has owned Alaska Denali Travel since 2011. As the name implies, the business is focused on Denali National Park, with Denali Backcountry Lodge and Denali Cabins offering lodging and Denali Backcountry Adventures providing tours into the park.

CIRI Alaska Tourism has primarily built its business around Resurrection Bay, with the exclusive Seward Windsong and Kenai Fjords Wilderness lodges and Kenai Fjords Tours operating out of Seward. In 1999 the company built the 212-room Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge just south of its namesake town.

CIRI Alaska Tourism has won a host of industry accolades for its businesses in recent years.

Alaska Denali Travel Vice President Thomas McAleer said in a release that the tourism subsidiaries will combine well as both have a longstanding history of successful operations in Alaska’s tourism industry.

“With the addition of CATC, not only are we combining two stellar teams of employees, but we will also be able to offer guests a complete bucket list journey from Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park up to Talkeetna and into Denali National Park,” McAleer said.

Alaska’s tourism industry is going strong on the back of a growing Lower 48 economy and low fuel prices encouraging Americans and international tourists to travel. The state Commerce Department reported record visitor numbers last year with nearly 1.8 million people finding their way to Alaska last year — a 7 percent increase from 2014. Each of those travelers contributed to the state economy by spending an average of about $940 once in Alaska, according to Commerce figures.

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