Governor Mike Dunleavy has launched a national ad campaign promoting a post-pandemic revival of Alaska’s tourism industry. But the campaign uses outdated data that claims the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is higher than it really is.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.
“Do you want to see glaciers? Bears? Pan for gold? You name it,” he says in a voiceover. “Alaska is the place, having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, our people are safe, and you will be too.”
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 the shots.
Alaska is now the 28th-ranked state when it comes to the rate of people who have had at least one dose, and 25th in the rate of full vaccinations.
Dunleavy spokesman Corey Allen Young said in an email that the ad was filmed April 20. That was when Alaska had the 5th highest rate of fully-vaccinated people.
In his email, Young pointed to the numerous regions of Alaska with high vaccination rates, like Juneau, Skagway, Bristol Bay, Petersburg, Nome and Sitka, where more than 70% of people ages 16 and up have gotten the shots.
“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.
This story has been updated to include comment from Dunleavy’s spokesperson and to add that the campaign was funded with federal COVID-19 relief money. The headline has also been updated.