Press Release: 15-162
December 15, 2015 ANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker announced the winners of the 2015 Governor’s North Star Awards for International Excellence. The winners are Korean Air for transportation, Fugro for scientific exchange, Alaska Skylar Travel for foreign investment, and Northern Alaska Tour Company for tourism.
“It’s a pleasure to recognize the important work of these businesses that have forged strong commercial ties to other countries,” Governor Walker said. “Alaska benefits when we are connected to as many world markets as possible.”
Korean Air initiated air cargo service to Anchorage in 1971 with its first cargo flight. It is the longest continuously serving international carrier at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The airline is also one of the first carriers to take advantage of the cargo transfer rights available in Alaska, prompting other carriers to engage in cargo transfer, which is vital to the airport’s business development plans. In August 2015, 178 Korean Airlines wide-body freighters landed at the Anchorage airport. Air cargo activity accounts for approximately 55 percent of the Alaska International Airport System’s total revenue; Korean Air comprises almost 10 percent of the cargo revenue.
Fugro has developed an offshore ice management capability that enables mapping, characterization and monitoring of ice structures over large geographic areas. The ice management capability originated in Alaska to reduce risk in the offshore environment for activities associated with oil and gas exploration and development. It has since been deployed to Canada for further research and development, and is now expected to be running in 2016.
Alaska Skylar Travel caters to Chinese-speaking visitors to Alaska. The company is among the first land-based tour operators catering specifically to a growing number of Chinese nationals visiting the state. Skylar Jiang, a former China-based tourism expert at CYTS—one of China’s largest travel service providers—was invited by Visit Anchorage to participate in a 2006 familiarization tour to Alaska. Years of preparations followed that first visit, and in September of 2014, Alaska Skylar Travel began operations in Alaska and now employs seven full-time and three part-time Anchorage-based staff, along with five Alaska-based contractors. All tour guides are long-time Alaskans who speak Mandarin.
Northern Alaska Tour Company (NATC) began in 1986, when a group of recent high school graduates, friends since grade school, bought a van and started offering day tours to the Arctic Circle each summer before returning to college. Nearly 30 years later, these same friends have grown NATC to a year-round business employing 50 full-time Alaskans. NATC caters to the two percent of visitors to Alaska who travel to the Arctic.
For photos of the event, please visit here.