National park visitors contributed $26.5 billion to the nation’s economy and supported almost 240,000 jobs in 2013, according to a peer-reviewed report released today by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
“National parks are often the primary economic engines of many park gateway communities,” Jarvis said in a press release. “While park rangers provide interpretation of the iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, nearby communities provide our visitors with services that support hundreds of thousands of mostly local jobs.”
National park visitation for 2013 declined by 3.2% compared to 2012. The 16-day government shutdown last October accounted for most of the decline. National parks in the Northeast, closed for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs, were the other significant brake on visitation.
Visitor spending for 2013 was down by 1%. The number of jobs supported by visitor spending was off by 2.1%, and the overall effect on the U.S. economy was 1% lower than the previous year due to adjustments for inflation.
“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” Jarvis said. “Every tax dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy because of visitor spending in gateway communities near the 401 parks of the National Park System.”
Jarvis said visitation so far this year indicates a rebound from 2013 and he expects a steady increase as excitement grows in advance of the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service.