Nearly 1.5 million visit park in 2017
A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1.46 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2017 spent $95.8 million “in communities near the park.”
That spending supported 1,204 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $126 million.
“Shenandoah National Park welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Jennifer Flynn. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides.
“We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
In Virginia in 2017, 24.3 million park visitors spent an estimated $1.0 billion in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands. These expenditures supported a total of 15.1 thousand jobs, $477 million in labor income, $812 million in value added, and $1.4 billion in economic output in the Virginia economy.
More than 31 percent of the expenditures ($320 million) were for hotels and other lodging options — in Rappahannock County, for example, cabin rentals, B&Bs, airbnbs and guesthouses — over 22 percent ($231 million) for restaurants, gasoline 14 percent ($142 million), and retails 11 percent ($111 million).
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.
The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.
The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.
According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).
Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies.