National park tourism creates $1 billion+ in economic benefit
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve had 500,590 visitors in 2013
A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that more than 2.5 million visitors to national parks in Alaska spent $1.1 billion and supported about 17,000 jobs in the state in 2013.
“The national parks of Alaska attract visitors from local communities, across the country and around the world,” said NPS Alaska Regional Director Bert Frost. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip or a vacation on a cruise ship, 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.”
In Alaska, the three most-visited parks in 2013 were Denali (530,921 visits), Glacier Bay (500,590) and Klondike Goldrush (928,150). About 400 private businesses provide commercial visitor services in Alaska’s 23 national parks.
The study pointed out that visit characteristics and spending at Alaska parks are unique. Spending opportunities near Alaska parks are limited and, for many visitors, a park visit is part of a cruise or guided tour, frequently purchased as a package. Most visitors are on extended trips to Alaska, making it difficult to allocate expenses to a particular park visit. Lodging, vehicle rentals and air expenses frequently occur in Anchorage, many miles from the park. Also, many Alaska parks are only accessible by air or boat, so spending profiles estimated from visitor surveys at parks in the Lower 48 states do not apply well. For this analysis, Alaska statewide multipliers are used to estimate impacts for parks in Alaska.
According to the 2013 national economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).
The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending nationally were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs), and lodging (38,000 jobs).
To download the report, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.
Cruise family of businesses
The cruise industry includes approximately 2,175 Alaska businesses that provide tours, activities and services to the cruise lines and their passengers. These businesses include:
- Car-rental companies
- Air transportation companies
- Day cruises/sled dog rides/sightseeing tours
In addition to direct sales, cruise-related businesses purchase goods and services and invest in capital projects each year. This affects Alaska businesses like construction, real estate, banking, freight, transportation, maintenance, bookkeeping and a long list of support services.