A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 2.66 million visitors to national parks in Alaska spent nearly $1.2 billion in the state in 2015. That spending resulted in an estimated 17,000 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of about $1.7 billion.
“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.”
Alaska is home to 23 of America’s 411 national-park areas. The most visited parks in Alaska are Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (919,000 visitors), Denali National Park and Preserve (560,000 visitors) and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (551,000 visitors).
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 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.
“I think we’ll see another strong year in visitation,” Frost said. “This is the centennial year for the National Park Service, and that’s brought a mix of special events in parks, significant media attention and new promotional work by the State of Alaska and our commercial visitor service partners.”
“Alaska’s national parks attract visitors from around the state, country and globe,” said Sarah Leonard, president and CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association. “The National Park Service report illustrates how important these resources are to Alaska’s tourism industry. The numbers speak for themselves: Alaska’s national parks were visited by more than 2.6 million people in 2015, supported 17,000 jobs and resulted in $1.2 billion in spending. Alaska’s national parks are a huge resource that cannot be taken for granted.”
According to the 2015 report, most park-visitor spending nationally 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.