April 22, 2016
WASHINGTON – Spending by a record number of national park visitors in 2015 provided a $32 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 295,000 jobs, according to a report released today by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” Jarvis said of the $16.9 billion visitors spent in communities within 60 miles of a national park. “Each tax dollar invested in the National Park Service effectively returns $10 to the U.S. economy because of visitor spending that works through local, state and the U.S. economy.
“This is especially significant news to the gateway communities where national parks can be the community’s primary economic engine,” Jarvis said. “While we care for the parks and interpret the stories of these iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, our neighbors in nearby communities provide our visitors with important services like food and lodging and that means hundreds of thousands of local jobs.”
The report comes on the heels of a major policy speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell earlier this week. The Secretary called for greater investments in national parks and public lands to prepare for the next century of conservation. The address, delivered during National Park Week, also called for a course correction in conserving America’s public lands; made an argument to make our national parks more relevant to an increasingly diverse and urbanized country; and called for implementing smarter, landscape-level planning to support healthy ecosystems and sustainable development on public lands.
Visitor spending in 2015 supported 295,000 jobs, provided $11.1 billion in labor income, $18.4 billion in value added, and $32.0 billion in economic output to the U.S. economy. The lodging sector provided the highest direct contributions with $5.2 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 52,000 jobs. The restaurants and bars sector provided the next greatest direct contributions with $3.4 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 65,000 jobs.
According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
The annual peer-reviewed economics report, 2015 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by park and by state on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.
Report authors this year also produced an interactive tool to present data in full color circle and bar graphs . Users can explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse.
National Park visitation is expected to grow again in 2016, the centennial year for the NPS. There are now 411 parks in the national park system, the latest is the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington D.C., established by President Obama on April 12.
President Obama established a Centennial Initiative for the NPS anniversary and Congress is considering a centennial act to support a multi-year effort to invest wisely in the park system’s most important assets, use parks to enhance informal learning, engage volunteers, provide training opportunities for youth, and enhance the NPS’s ability to leverage partnerships to accomplish its mission.
For more state-by-state information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities, go to http://www.nps.gov/[statename], for example: http://www.nps.gov/virginia.
National Park Visitor Spending Contributions to the U.S. Economy 2012-15
|Visitation||Visitor Spending||Jobs Supported||Local Jobs||Total Output|
|2012||282,765,682||$14.7 billion||242,712||201,040||$26.8 billion|
|2013||273,630,895||$14.6 billion||237,599||197,343||$26.5 billion|
|2014||292,800,082||$15.7 billion||276,960||235,600||$29.7 billion|
|2015||307,247,252||$16.9 billion||295,339||252,030||$32 billion|
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 411 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.