Alaska Gov. Dunleavy launches new tourism ads featuring outdated COVID vaccination data

Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy stars in a new ad campaign promoting Alaska tourism. (YouTube)

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy launched a national ad campaign promoting a post-pandemic revival of Alaska’s tourism industry.

But the campaign relies on outdated data claiming the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is higher than it currently is.

The $5 million campaign, funded with federal COVID-19 relief money, debuted Monday. It features Dunleavy, a Republican, atop a prominent tourist attraction: the mountainside tramway in Juneau operated by Goldbelt, the local Native corporation.

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“Do you want to see glaciers? Bears? Pan for gold? You name it,” Dunleavy says. “Alaska is the place, having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.”

Alaska once had one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, but other states have since overtaken it when it comes to giving out shots.

Alaska is now the 28th-ranked state for proportion of residents who’ve had at least one dose, and 25th for full vaccinations.

Dunleavy spokesman Corey Allen Young said the ad was filmed a month ago on April 20, when Alaska had the fifth-highest rate of fully-vaccinated people.

In an email, Young pointed to the numerous regions of Alaska with high vaccination rates, including Juneau, Skagway, Bristol Bay, Petersburg, Nome and Sitka, where more than 70% of people age 16 and up have been vaccinated.

“Because of the awesome work of Alaskans statewide that includes vaccinations, Gov. Dunleavy shot the Alaska tourism video weeks ago, to advocate that Alaska and Alaskan businesses are open,” Young said. “More Alaskans are getting vaccinated, case counts are going down, the state is promoting the Sleeves Up for Summer Campaign — all of which is resulting in communities opening up for business, which includes tourism.”

The main channels running the ads are Fox, History, Travel and National Geographic, Young said. They’ll continue over six and a half weeks.

National Public Radio contributed reporting.

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist. He's been a reporter in Alaska for a decade, and is currently reporting for Alaska Public Media. Find more of his work by subscribing to his newsletter, Northern Journal, at Reach him at

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