Report: National Park visitors spend big

A new National Park Service report shows that the 650,000 visitors to national parklands in the Santa Monica Mountains spent $26 million in the surrounding community in 2012. The spending supported 336 local jobs.

Source of this article: The Thousand Oaks Acorn, March 6, 2014

The report only studied the number of visitors to National Park Service land, which comprises 15 percent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The total number of visitors to the recreation area, including lands managed by California State Parks and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, is well into the millions, the Park Service said.

“The park’s trails, scenic vistas and cultural sites draw thousands each week,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Whether they come from local neighborhoods or from afar, our visitors contribute to the local economy.”

The report indicates that tourism to national parks returns $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service.

The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within six 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 bed and breakfast inns (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the full report, visit www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.

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