Holland America is closing its hotel in Beaver Creek next year.
The move is driven by slumping customer demand, said Erik Elvejord, the cruise line’s public relations director.
“Basically what we’ve done is some research, looked at our guests, how they’re looking to travel and so we’ve changed up our tour itineraries for next year,” he said.
That means the company is eliminating, among other things, the Kluane motor coach package, which included an overnight stop in Beaver Creek.
On the other side of the border, the company is getting rid of an overnighter in Tok, Alaska, and shuttering its hotel there as well.
But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any visits to Kluane National Park next year, said Elvejord.
“The goal is to spend a little more time in Dawson and Whitehorse, but we’ll still give people the option to get out to Kluane from Whitehorse on independent tours and things like that,” he said. “We just found that people have been asking for certain things, a little bit more time in destinations as opposed to time on the motor coach.”
Instead of driving overland, the company will be flying its customers between Dawson and Fairbanks.
The changes to its tours won’t take place until next year.
Elvejord couldn’t say what Holland America would do with the hotel in Beaver Creek, which it has owned since 1973.
“It’s a little early now to know exactly what will happen,” he said. “They’re exploring the different options and things that they might do.
“At the moment, it’s pretty wide open.”
The company is also exploring options for the more than 60 seasonal employees whose jobs will be affected by the changes in the tour packages.
“We’re trying to figure out what the best options are and we’re working with the employees in terms of opportunities elsewhere in the organization,” he said
Not everyone is happy with the changes. That includes the Klondike’s Liberal MLA, Sandy Silver.
“This change of plans will have a dramatic effect on the economy of the Kluane region, particularly the communities of Haines Junction and also of Beaver Creek,” he said in the legislature on Thursday.
“The economic impact of the changes like this should not be underestimated,” he added. “It means millions of dollars coming out of the North Alaska Highway economy.”
Acting Tourism Minister Elaine Taylor responded by pointing out that in the last budget the government has set aside $700,000 for tourism marketing efforts, money she said was paying off.
“Just last year alone, we saw a four per cent increase in the overall visitation to the Yukon, so unlike other jurisdictions, we are doing what we can and we are performing well,” she said.
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