A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1.2 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2012 spent $76 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 945 jobs in the local area.
The report says more than 1.1 million of those visitors, or about 94 percent, were considered “non-local” visitors.
“In my mind, parks are priceless,” said Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Jim Northup. “As Americans, I hope we value our parks not only for their economic value, but more so for what they represent as part of our heritage, for preserving the best of what America has to offer for future generations, and for opportunities to learn, have fun, find inspiration, physical challenge and even spiritual renewal.”
“However, particularly in these difficult economic times, a study like this serves as an important reminder that individual units of the national park system, as well as national forests and wildlife refuges, have tremendous economic benefit to local economic benefit to local communities,” Northup added. “We are proud to be an important component of what makes the Blue Ridge Mountains such a special place to visit, and hope our communities appreciate the park’s value as well. This study did not include money we spend for a variety of contracts for special projects each year. When you add that in the benefit to the local communities and to employment are even greater.”
“The park staff and I will continue to make Shenandoah National Park an attractive and wonderful place to visit and look forward to continuing our work with the gateway communities, our partner organizations and other citizens to promote nature-based and heritage education tourism to our area,” Northup concluded.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists for the National Park Service, shows $14.7 billion of direct spending nationwide by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.
According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).
To download the report, visit nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. Information on national parks in Virginia and how the park service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment and provide outdoor recreation can be found at nps.gov/Virginia.