News Release

Tourism in Alaska's National Parks Creates $1.3 Billion in Economic Benefit

Date: April 26, 2018
Contact: Katherine Belcher, (907) 683-9583

A new National Park Service report shows that 2.786 million visitors to national parks in Alaska spent nearly $1.3 billion in the state in 2017. That spending resulted in 18,903 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $1.89 billion.
“The national parks of Alaska attract visitors from within the state, across the country and around the world,” said NPS Regional Director Bert Frost. “Whether they are out for a weekend, a school field trip, or a month-long vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending some money along the way. This new report also shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, and is a big factor in our state’s economy, a result we can all support.”
Alaska showed the second-highest level of visitor spending among all states.
The national parks in Alaska are: Denali National Park and Preserve, Sitka National Historical Park, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, Noatak National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and Aniakchak National Monument. 
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 $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.
The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector -received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.
According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).
In Alaska, a variety of businesses often help make park visits possible. More than 400 private businesses operate in Alaska’s national park areas, ranging from small, local companies to large international corporations.
Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program.
Learn more about national parks in Alaska

Last updated: November 9, 2020