Tourism to the Blue Ridge Parkway creates $902 million in economic benefit

money-newlinksA new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 15.2 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2012 spent $902 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 12,168 jobs in the local area.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said superintendent Mark Woods. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

“The Parkway will continue to rely on important relationships with our partners and neighboring communities as we prepare for the upcoming 2014 visitor season and beyond,” Woods continues.  “The symbiotic nature of the Parkway and its gateway communities is clearly demonstrated by this report and reinforces one of the original vision statements of the Parkway as “a major contributor to regional economic vitality.””

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and 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 60 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 B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

 

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