National Parks as an Economic Engine

National Parks continued to be important economic engines for local communities, with visitors generating $30.1 billion in economic activity and supporting 251,600 jobs nationwide in 2011, according to a report released by the National Park Service.

The contribution of 1,040,758 visitors spending to Arches National Park (Utah) amounted to 1,638 jobs, $33.855 million in labor income, and $65.849 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The contribution of 1,040,758 visitors spending to Arches National Park (Utah) amounted to 1,638 jobs, $33.855 million in labor income, and $65.849 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“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,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

“People who visit parks need transportation, places to stay, and meals to eat—all of which support businesses and provide jobs in local communities.”

The statistics for 2011 are based on the spending of 278.9 million national park visitors; more than one third of that total spending, or $12.95 billion, went directly into communities within 60 miles of a park.

The contribution of this park visitor spending to the national economy amounted to 251,600 jobs, $9.34 billion in labor income, and $16.50 billion in value added.

The direct effects of visitor spending are measured at the local level in gateway regions around national parks. Local economic impacts were estimated after excluding spending by park visitors from the local area (9.8% of the total spending). Combining local impacts across all parks yielded a total local impact (including direct and secondary effects) of 162,400 jobs, $4.58 billion in labor income, and $8.15 billion value added.

The four local economic sectors most directly affected by non-local visitor spending are lodging (including camping fees), restaurants, retail trade, and recreation and entertainment.

The contribution of 365,000 visitors spending to Carlsbad Canyon National Park (New Mexico) amounted to 299 jobs, $5.771 million in labor income, and $10.646 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The contribution of 365,000 visitors spending to Carlsbad Canyon National Park (New Mexico) amounted to 299 jobs, $5.771 million in labor income, and $10.646 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Their spending supported 45,200 jobs in restaurants and bars, 34,100 jobs in lodging sectors, 15,500 jobs in retail and wholesale trade, and 20,000 jobs in recreation and entertainment.

When analyzed separately the contribution of camping fees alone amounted to 4,541 jobs, $77 million in labor income, and $150 million in value added while contributing $244,000 to the local economy.

These numbers are on par with previous years.

“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 National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

“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 $1the American taxpayer invests in the National Park Service; that makes good stewardship sense and good business sense.”
The National Park Service report is done on an annual basis and is prepared through a cooperative agreement with Michigan State University.

The National Park Service recently released its 2012 visitation numbers showing an increase of 3.8 million over the previous year for a total of 282.8 million visitors to the National Park Service’s 398 parks.

These numbers will be the basis for next year’s economic benefits report.

Details

National Park Service

The contribution of 4,298,178 visitors spending to Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) amounted to 7,361 jobs, $194.112 million in labor income, and $346,447 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The contribution of 4,298,178 visitors spending to Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) amounted to 7,361 jobs, $194.112 million in labor income, and $346,447 million in value added. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks.

With the help of volunteers and park partners, the park service is proud to safeguard these special places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites in America’s 397 national parks.

Website: nps.gov

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series

Part 1: Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Engine

Part 3: Discover a New Reason to Love the Outdoors

Worth Pondering…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will flow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

—John Muir

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