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Contact: Kristy Sholly, (907) 422-0530
Seward, AK–A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 296,697 visitors to Kenai Fjords National Park in 2015 spent over $59 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,092 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $85 million.
For the 2016 summer season, the park advertised 18 local hire seasonal vacancy announcements for up to 35 positions within the park. Within the park's maintenance and interpretation/education teams, 90% and 75% of their seasonal positions were filled through local hire. In 2015, the area of local hire expanded to include those with tribal ancestral ties to the park in the villages of Port Graham, Seldovia, and Nanwalek. "Our local seasonal workers bring in-depth knowledge of the area and provide an invaluable, authentic experience for the visitor," stated Superintendent Jay Calhoun.
Eight positions in the park employ local high school students in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). The YCC program creates opportunities for ages 15-18 to find employment and explore careers within the National Park Service.
Five years ago, the park created entry-level, uniformed positions for local youth to grow into careers within the National Park Service. Students shared their experiences and summer projects with fellow students at their respective universities.
Visitors to Kenai Fjords National Park made up part of the 2.67 million visitors to national parks in Alaska that spent $1.2 billion and supported 17,590 jobs in the state in 2015.
Alaska, with 23 units of the 411-unit National Park System, ranks second (behind California) among the states, territories, and the District of Columbia in national park visitor spending and job support. About 400 private businesses provide commercial visitor services in Alaska's national parks.
"The national parks of Alaska attract visitors from throughout the state, across the country, and around the world," said NPS Alaska Regional Director Bert Frost. "Whether they are out for a day, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy - returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service - and a big factor in our state's economy as well, a result we can all support."
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million national park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally;252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.
According to the 2015 report, most visitor spending in national parks was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
To download the report visit go.nps.gov/vse.
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
To learn more about national parks in Alaska and how the National Park Service works with Alaskan communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/alaska.