JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The fee for cruise ship passengers travelling into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in southeast Alaska will increase next year.

The permit fee for each passenger for the next decade will increase from $5 to $8.28, the Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

The current permit fee has been in use since 2009. The new rate was set as the National Park Service sent out a request for proposals to cruise ship companies seeking to gain access to the park for 2019 to 2029. The contracts that will be awarded by the park service will govern how many cruise ships can enter the park each year and how much each ship will pay.

During the bidding process, the agency will look for cruise ship companies that promote a positive user experience while respecting the park's ecosystem, said Melanie Berg, a park service concessions specialist. The agency will ask each contract bidder detailed questions about how its operations will affect the park, she said.

"The funding is important, but what's really important is all the other answers from the questions," Berg said.

About 80 percent of the money collected from the permits, which amounted to about $5.5 million last year, supports the park's upkeep. The funding also pays for scientific studies and the interpretive rangers that the park service sends aboard each cruise ship when the ships enter the park.

Of the about 550,000 people who visited the park last year, more than 330,000 arrived by cruise ship, according to the park service.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com