By Casey Ressler
Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau
Out-of-state visitors directly spent $98 million in the Mat-Su Valley in 2016, which led to a total economic output of $133 million, according to a recently completed Mat-Su Borough Tourism Economic Impact Analysis released by the Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The analysis, performed by The McDowell Group, also found that the tourism industry provides employment to 1,350 people in the borough, accounting for $34 million in labor revenue.
“Tourism is a vital part of the overall economy in the Mat-Su Borough. Tourism is one of the few industries in Alaska that has been growing, and the impact it has on our local economy cannot be understated,” said Mat-Su CVB Executive Director Bonnie Quill. “Tourism provides employment opportunities, generates revenue for our communities and supports infrastructure that benefits residents.”
Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey said tourism is an important part of the borough’s economy.
“The Mat-Su Borough offers cool Alaska experiences to out-of-state visitors like the new K’esugi Ken Campgrounds in Denali State Park, several easy-to-access glaciers, the Iditarod, the Iron Dog, our many trails, Government Peak Recreation Area, Talkeetna and more. We value the influx of tourism dollars into the local economy. The Borough Assembly consistently supports tourism infrastructure to encourage more to visit,” Moosey said.
The analysis only studied out-of-state visitors to the Mat-Su Borough using data from the 2016 Alaska Visitors Statistics Program. In the report, it is estimated the economic impact for all visitors, including Alaskans who visit the Mat-Su Valley, is closer to $160 million. In 2016, 391,000 out-of-state travelers visited the Mat-Su Borough, and 89 percent of them came during the May-September season.
The largest spending categories were food/beverage ($27 million; 28 percent); lodging ($23 million; 23 percent); and tours/activities ($23 million; 23 percent). Transportation expenses, which include rental cars and fuel purchases, represented $17 million and 17 percent. Gifts, clothing and souvenirs represented $8 million and 8 percent.
Visitor spending directly generated 1,350 full- and part-time jobs in the borough, and $34 million in labor income, according to the report. Food/beverage accounted for 33 percent of employment; lodging accounted for 31 percent; tours/activities accounted for 21 percent; transportation accounted for 10 percent; and gift and retail purchases accounted for 4 percent.
“Those dollars spent by visitors cycle throughout the Mat-Su Borough economy, creating a positive economic impact on our community that is felt across all sectors,” Quill said.
Photo of Denali and interpretive center at K'esugi Ken Campground off Parks Highway at mile 135 by Patty Sullivan/Mat-Su Borough