WASHINGTON, D.C.-Visitors to the National Park System contributed more than $31 billion to local economies and supported 258,000 jobs in 2010, an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009, according to a report issued by the National Park Service yesterday.
The announcement comes in advance of Friday’s White House Conference on Conservation being hosted at the Department of the Interior that will spotlight community-driven conservation efforts as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
“Our National Parks and other public lands continue to be economic engines that produce and support jobs in communities across America,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “It is the reason President Obama signed an executive order last month to promote travel and tourism in the United States. By investing in our parks and promoting them to visitors, especially internationally, we can have the dual benefit of an improved National Park System and a stronger economy that produces more jobs.”
Salazar noted that recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands alone led to nearly $55 billion in economic contribution and 440,000 jobs in 2009.
In January, Obama launched the creation of a Travel & Competitiveness Task Force to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States. A particular focus of the Task Force will be on strategies for increasing tourism and recreation jobs by promoting visits to our national treasures-including our national parks, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, monuments and other public lands and waters that attract travelers from around the country and the globe.
“The Department of the Interior doesn’t just oversee beautiful and historic places,” he said. “We help drive tourism and recreation that powers small businesses and creates jobs.”
The economic impact figures for the National Park System released yesterday are based on $12 billion in direct spending by the 281 million visitors to parks in 2010 and are included in an annual, peer-reviewed, visitor spending analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University.
“National parks are best known for their incredible beauty and the preservation of America’s historical legacy, but they are also critical assets for local economies,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The investment American taxpayers make in their national parks continues to offer a huge return, not only in priceless family experiences but in real jobs and economic growth in our gateway communities that ripples to suppliers across the nation.”
Most of the spending/jobs figures are related to lodging, food, and beverage service (52 percent) followed by other retail (29 percent), entertainment/amusements (10 percent), gas and local transportation (7 percent) and groceries (2 percent).
The entire National Park Service report which includes information on visitor spending by park and by state, is online at http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM, click Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010.
For more state-by-state information on national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities go to www.nps.gov/STATE, for example: http://www.nps.gov/virginia. (DOI)