Commercial Visitor Services
This page is primarily for people interested in, or currently providing commercial visitor services in the Alaska national parks. If you are interested in visiting the parks, please see the individual park websites.
Types of Commercial Visitor Services Authorizations
Approximately 400-425 companies annually provide a wide variety of commercial visitor services for visitors to Alaska’s 16 national park areas. The number of companies and volume of business activity varies by year but the trend is towards a modest increase, as tourism in Alaska expands. The NPS authorizes commercial visitor services under concession contracts and commercial use authorizations. There are many distinctions between these two types of authorizations, but generally the NPS issues concession contracts when there is a need to limit the number of operators or construct facilities in park areas and a competitive system is employed to solicit proposals from private businesses. Commercial use authorizations are generally used when a service is appropriate for the park area, but there is no need to limit the number of service providers or construct facilities in park areas and therefore no need to employ a competitive system to award the authorization. Of the 400-425 companies mentioned above, approximately 105 are authorized under concession contracts and the remainder authorized under commercial use authorizations. Generally, engaging in or soliciting any business in a national park requires a contract or other written authorization from the National Park Service (NPS). See below for more authorizations.
A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) authorizes suitable commercial services to park area visitors in limited circumstances. The term of a CUA may not exceed 2 years and no preferential right of renewal or similar provisions for renewal may be provided.
(2) Directory of Commercial Visitor Services Providers for a list of current CUA Holders.
(5) Concession Contracts
Concession contracts are awarded through a competitive process. After determining that a visitor service is necessary, appropriate, and feasible as a business opportunity, the National Park Service prepares a prospectus which outlines the requirements for operating the business. Interested businesses apply by submitting written proposals that respond to established criteria.
(6) Leases - Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The NPS may also grant leases for the use of federally owned or administered buildings and associated property within park areas. Generally, the NPS leases only buildings and associated property that are not needed for use by the NPS. Currently, the only leased buildings and associated property in Alaska national parks are located in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway.