The Kenai River has always been a destination fishing related tourism. We spoke to Michelle Glaves, Executive Director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, and asked if the uncertainty over the fishing regulations has effected visitor numbers.
Glaves: “As far as numbers in the visitors center itself, we are over last year. We had a little bit of a dip in 2010, and it had steadily work its way up, and we are up in 2013 over last year. So our visitor numbers inside the visitors center are up from last year, which doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more people here, just that more people are looking for different things to do.”
We also asked Glaves, if it may be time for the local area to begin marketing other visitor options beyond fishing…
Glaves: “I think that we’ve done that, and there are a lot of different businesses that have done that. Rolling back to the ’08 when things kind of took a crash outside, and visitors were starting to be weary of coming up here, that combined with the king salmon turning and more restrictions on the river, and the uncertainty of king salmon, or fishing for them, catch and release, or closures, I think that a lot of people have made a lot of changes, and modifying they way they do business and how they do business.”