Shenandoah National Park tourism creates $129M in economic benefits

Shenandoah National ParkA new National Park Service report shows that 1.4 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2019 spent $96.7 million in communities near the park.

That spending supported 1,190 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $129 million.

“These numbers show the tremendous impacts that Shenandoah and the National Park System have on our local and state economies” Acting Superintendent Kevin Soviak said.  “Not only do our national parks have beneficial economic impacts, but they also have positive influences on the collective physical and mental wellness of their visitors. Especially in times like these; the nation, along with all of our visitors from other countries, need our national parks more than ever. As Shenandoah National Park welcomes back people to the park, we are excited to share these scenic lands and the wildlife within.”

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 $21 billion of direct spending by more than 327 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 340,500 jobs nationally; 278,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $41.7 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effects with $4.2 billion in economic output. Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce 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. Users can also view year-by-year trend data.

The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in Virginia and how the National Park Service works with Virginia communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/virginia.


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