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Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the over 530,000 visitors who came to Denali National Park and Preserve in 2014 spent $5.24 million in communities near the park. That spending supported almost 7,000 jobs in the local area, which includes the 300+ employees of the park’s largest concessioner, and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $7.48 million.
“Denali National Park is a world-class destination that has been welcoming visitors from Alaska, the rest of the United States, and from all over the globe for nearly a century,” said Superintendent Don Striker. “Even though our main season is relatively short, visitor spending on lodging, camping, meals, guided recreational activities, and other items plays a significant role in supporting the local and state economies, as the majority of our visitors also travel to other sites within the state.”
The Denali-area communities are relatively remote, and employment relies heavily on providing support services to summer visitors. The number of jobs in the Denali Borough mirrors park visitation, and is four times higher during the peak summer visitation season. “Nearly 40% of the National Park Service’s 200 seasonal staff are hired from the local area,” stated Striker. “Many other local and Alaska residents are employed by seasonal business operations in or near the park. These folks, along with the 100 permanent NPS employees and those working for other major employers in the area help sustain our neighboring communities year-round.”
The Denali Park Road is currently open for travel to private vehicles to Mile 30 (Teklanika Rest Area) as the park readies for summer visitors. Seasonal workers are arriving for their annual pre-season training as other employees prepare visitor facilities for opening in mid-May.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion. According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).
To download the report visit https://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.