A steady stream of press releases trickled out from across the National Park System this week, promoting the economic might that emanates from the the parks. All told, the system generated $31 billion and 258,000 jobs in 2010, according to the National Park Service.
Yellowstone: Visitors generated $334 million in spending in the park and its gateway communities, helping to support 4,900 jobs.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: More than $186 million in spending, 2,345 jobs.
Shenandoah National Park: $71.8 million, 1,087 jobs.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: More than $17 million, 287 jobs.
Grand Teton National Park: More than $424 million, more than 6,300 jobs.
Grand Canyon National Park: More than $415 million, 6,167 jobs.
Similar releases came from all corners of the system, and in Washington, D.C., Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Park Service Director Jon Jarvis on Tuesday hailed the numbers, which, overall, represented an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs from 2009 levels.
“Our national parks and other public lands continue to be economic engines that produce and support jobs in communities across America,” Secretary 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.”
The secretary 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, President 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,” the president said. “We help drive tourism and recreation that powers small businesses and creates jobs.”
The economic impact figures for the National Park System released Tuesday 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 Park Service Director 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 this site. Once there, click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010.