Alaska mayor calls for more tourism with Russia

The mayor of Nome, Alaska, called for greater tourism between the U.S. and Russia in an interview that aired Monday on Hill.TV's "Rising." 

“The strategic importance of the Bering Strait is absolutely unbelievable. The state of Alaska has more than half of the coastline of the entire United States of America," Richard Beneville told hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti. "That blows my mind.”

“I grew up in the Cold War," he continued. "I’m not a saber rattler at all, but I think it was [former British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill who said, 'If you don’t learn from history sometimes you’re doomed to repeat it.' And there [is] a lot of history we don’t want to repeat.”

“We’re about a hundred miles from Russia, and I do tourism with Russia — not as much as I’d like to, I’d like to see that open — but from resources, accessibility of the Arctic Ocean," he continued. 

Nome stands to benefit from greater tourism, given its location on the southern portion of the Seward Peninsula on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. 

Beneville, who owns a tour company, is promoting an infrastructure project for the state's northernmost deep-water port, which he said would help diversify Alaska's economy. 

More than 700 vessels came through the port last year; however, the facility was built to accommodate 40 or 50 vessels. 

"That's called climate change," Beneville said. "It's having an incredible effect on the far north." 

— Julia Manchester