National Park Tourism in Alaska Creates $1.98 Billion in Economic Benefits
ANCHORAGE–A new National Park Service report shows that 2,920,250 visitors to national parks in Alaska spent $1.36 billion in the state in 2018. That spending resulted in 17,760 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of more than $1.98 billion.
“Alaska’s national parks are world treasures and people from across the country as well as around the globe come here to experience them,” said NPS Regional Director Bert Frost. “Whether they are local residents who bring their families to Denali for the weekend, or first-time visitors from abroad who come to see Katmai’s famous bears, all of Alaska’s parks provide superlative experiences to visitors, who also happen to spend some money along the way. This year’s report shows that tourism to national parks continues to be an important part of the national economy, and a significant economic engine for Alaska.” Nationwide, Alaska had the second-highest level of total visitor spending among all states.
The national park areas in Alaska are: 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, Denali National Park and Preserve, 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 and Egan Cornachione of the US Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the US economy was $40.1 billion.
Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.
Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.
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 webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm
In Alaska, a variety of businesses often help make park visits possible. The NPS in Alaska manages nearly 100 concession contracts and over 500 individual commercial use authorizations ranging from small, local companies to large international corporations, which provide visitor services within national park units.
To learn more about national parks in Alaska and how the National Park Service works with Alaska communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/AK.
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Out of the Mine and into the Smelter
Mining has long been a key fixture of Alaska’s economy. On a small scale, people flock to the 49th state to tour different operations. Kennecott Mine was once a booming copper mining site and is now a National Historic Landmark, attracting tourists eager to visit the ghost town and get a feel of the Gold Rush era it once dominated.