FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Native regional corporation Doyon Ltd. has been awarded a contract to provide bus, retail and food services in Denali National Park and Preserve.
The award marks the first time an Alaska Native corporation has been awarded the concession in the park.
Doyon has entered into a partnership with Aramark, the current contractor. Doyon owns 51 percent of the joint venture.
The value of the 10-year contract was not disclosed. The current concession operation brings in revenue of more than $13 million annually.
The park service, Doyon and Aramark are negotiating final terms of a 10-year contract, said park spokesman Doug Stockdale. The agreement must be approved by Congress. That action is expected in November, Stockdale said.
Doyon declined to comment on the award.
A provision in the new contract calls for the park to get a greater share of the revenue from concessions. The current franchise fee of 7.5 percent of gross revenue will double to 15 percent.
"That money allows us to provide more amenities and services for visitors," Stockdale said.
The park service expects gross revenues to rise over the years as visitation grows. About 300,000 people visit the park each year. That's expected to grow to 400,000 over the next two decades.
"We're trying to plan for sustainable growth," Stockdale said.
The park's selection of Doyon fulfills a provision in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which said Alaska Native corporations should play an active role in serving visitors to public lands, said Robert Arnberger, Alaska regional director for the National Park Service.
The concession award should mean good news for visitors.
"The prices are going to go down," said Nick Hardigg, the park's chief of concession. Ticket prices for bus tour packages into the park will be 1 percent to 4 percent less next year, ranging in price from $35 to $69, Hardigg said.