WASHINGTON, D.C. – National parks are important economic engines for local communities, with visitors generating $30.1 billion in revenue and supporting 252,000 jobs nationwide in 2011, according to a report released this week by the National Park Service.
These statistics are based on the spending of nearly 279 million national park visitors. More than one-third of that total spending, approximately $13 billion, went directly to communities within 60 miles of a park. Most visitor spending supported jobs in lodging, food and beverages (63 percent,) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent,) retail (11 percent,) transportation and fuel (seven percent) and wholesale and manufacturing (two percent.)
The National Park Service also released 2012 visitation numbers, showing an increase of 3.8 million visitors over 2011.
“Places like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty take our breath away and inspire us with their beauty and history, but our national parks also serve as anchors for our nation’s economy,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “People who visit parks need transportation, places to stay and meals to eat, all of which support businesses and provide jobs in local communities.”
“Everyone knows that national parks are great places to visit that offer inspiring educational experiences, unparalleled outdoor recreation and a whole lot of fun,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “But what this report shows is that America’s national parks are also critical economic engines, not only for our neighbors in gateway communities but for our entire country. The national parks return more than $10 for every $1 the American taxpayer invests in the National Park Service; that makes good stewardship sense and good business sense.”
However, mandatory budget cuts under sequestration may result in reduced hours of operation, shorter seasons and possibly closing campgrounds, hiking trails and other recreational areas in national parks throughout the country. Should Congress fail to act before the March 1 deadline, the public can expect reduced services at America’s 398 national parks, 561 national wildlife refuges and 268 public land units. These cuts will have a direct impact on the local communities and businesses that depend on the income generated from these public lands.
The National Park Service report is done on an annual basis and is prepared through a cooperative agreement with Michigan State University. The entire report is available online.
For more information on national parks and how the National Park Service is benefiting communities nationwide, visit the National Park Service website.
Submitted by: U.S. Department of the Interior