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A new National Park Service report shows that 2.78 million visitors to national parks in Alaska spent nearly $1.3 billion in the state in 2016. That record visitation and spending supported 18,000 jobs.
“The national parks of Alaska attract visitors from within the state, across the country and around the world,” said acting NPS Regional Director Joel Hard. “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 most-visited national parks in Alaska in 2016 were Klondike Gold Rush (912,351); Denali (587,412); Glacier Bay (520,171); Kenai Fjords (346,534) and Sitka (217,141).
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 $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.
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.
According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending nationally was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).
Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year 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 webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm. The report includes information for visitor spending by park and by state.
To learn more about national parks in Alaska and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/AK.