James Minton grew up in Washington State but got the travel bug early when flying cross-country to see family on the East Coast.
A year spent attending McGill University in Montreal gave James an appreciation for the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec – and his cholesterol has never been the same.
It was during a stint working in the gold rush town of Skagway – as a hotelier living off a diet of fresh shrimp – that James fell in love with Alaska. He worked his way through the tourism industry employed by a major cruise line in sales and marketing, a hotel chain and then running his own marketing consulting business.
James previously was a Director for the Alaska Tourism Industry Association before being recently named Vice President of Communications for Visit Anchorage. To learn more about Anchorage and the surrounding area, “LIKE” Visit Anchorage on Facebook.
We asked James – consummate host to visitors to Anchorage, and a great friend and fellow global explorer — to share some of his insights on traveling and Alaska.
James: There is no industry like hospitality in which one can meet as many diverse people from around the world. I’ve watched the northern lights with retired couples from the Midwest, served as a taxi driver for families from India, rafted with journalists and driven on a NASCAR racetrack in my short career. It’s been a heck of a ride so far.
What drew you to Alaska?
James: I wish this was a more romantic answer – but for me Alaska at first was a land of opportunity; I was working to make cash in college. What kept me here was the easy living and friends I met along the way.
Why do you think that travel is important?
James: There are only 26,280 sunrises in the average life. That’s a bit short, right?
Although I live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet – I need to check out some of those sunrises from a different beach. Time is short and there’s a lot of the world to cover.
James: First, in Alaska – I’d recommend the small towns of Skagway, Girdwood and Kodiak. In the entire world – I was overwhelmed by the beauty and food scene in Shanghai, China.
What personal benefits have you gained from traveling?
James: Traveling has been very useful for my work marketing Anchorage’s glaciers, wilderness and wildlife. One has to breathe a bit of smog to appreciate Alaska’s fresh air. I came to Alaska for the work, but I’ve stayed here because my frequent travels remind me how good we’ve got it.
What do you love most about Alaska?
James: Sharing it with others – that was an easy question! The more you show someone where you live, no matter where that is, the more you appreciate it yourself.
James: You won’t find a city this large with 1,500 moose, direct views of Mt. McKinley, 300 miles of trails or an active downtown salmon fishery. Nor will you find a city this small with rich Smithsonian exhibits, a vibrant local art scene or dining this varied. I appreciate that the Alaska traveler has a lot of ground to cover – Anchorage is lucky to be the year-round hub for it all.
What do first-time visitors to Alaska need to know before they go?
James: If nobody has told you this yet – it will always be true: Take your time! Whether on your first trip or your fifth, the state does not shrink with age. We have EVERYTHING you dream of seeing when you think of Alaska. Don’t shortchange yourself by rushing from cruise to city to park to airport – the more days you budget, the more of your bucket list you can check off.
From your travels, do you have a practice or insight that makes your travel experiences more enjoyable?
James:You’re doing the right thing by starting with seminars like this. My best advice – splurge when it makes sense, especially if added comfort will give you the fortitude to travel longer, stay out later or get more in depth.
Want to learn more from James about Alaska and its largest city of Anchorage? Join us for a free webinar Insiders’ Alaska: A Travel Chat with James Minton of Visit Anchorage on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 pm Central Daylight Time. Click here to register.
Can’t make the live event? Register anyway and you will receive a recording of the live seminar to watch at your convenience.