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People spent $1.3 billion visiting Alaska’s national parks last year

By: Annie Zak

Anchorage Daily News

Only California managed to top Alaska in visitor spending at national parks last year.

That’s according to an annual report by economists from the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, released this week.

Nearly 2.8 million people spent nearly $1.3 billion in “local gateway regions” in 2017 while visiting National Park Service lands in Alaska, the report said. Those regions are defined as communities within 60 miles of a national park.

The agency’s report doesn’t differentiate between spending from tourists and spending from Alaska residents, said Denali National Park and Preserve spokeswoman Katherine Belcher.

[Camping, hunting and hiking bring more money to Alaska than you might think]

The $1.3 billion in spending last year showed an increase from about $1.1 billion in spending in Alaska in 2012.

In 2017, most of that spending (more than 30 percent) was on transportation, followed by recreation, hotels, restaurants, retail, groceries, gas and camping.

There were about 18,900 jobs supported by national park spending last year, the study found, up from about 16,200 in 2012.

California topped Alaska by bringing in about $1.9 billion in park visitor spending. After Alaska, the states that had the most visitor spending were North Carolina, Arizona and Utah.

[The US will now measure the economic impact of outdoor recreation. What does that mean for Alaska?]

Alaska has 15 national park sites, including Denali, Sitka National Historic Park and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Nationally, more than 330 million people last year spent $18.2 billion in gateway regions.

Link to original article: https://www.adn.com/business-economy/2018/04/29/people-spent-1-3-billion-visiting-alaskas-national-parks-last-year/

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