Report Shows Strong Economic Benefits Generated by National Parks

Boosted by an additional 4 million visitors in 2012, national parks across the country continued to be important economic engines, generating $26.75 billion in economic activity and supporting 243,000 jobs, according to a recent peer-reviewed report released by the National Park Service.

More than 200,000 of the jobs supported by national parks in 2012 were in local neighboring communities. These range from big parks like the Grand Canyon, which attracted 4.4 million visitors and supported 6,000 jobs, to smaller parks like the Lincoln Boyhood Home, which had 133,000 visitors and supported 93 jobs in local communities.

This 2012 analysis is a revision from previous reports. Many of the hallmarks of the past model are preserved, but the new model makes significant strides in accuracy and transparency of the analysis. Key changes include new software, updated assumptions about the nation’s economy based on 400 different characteristics, and new estimates of spending and visitor trip characteristics.

The figures in the report are based on spending by nearly 283 million visitors in communities near national parks in 2012. An in-depth analysis of the 2012 figures found an increase in local visitor spending and a correlating increase in economic activity and jobs in local communities.

The Park Service also provided estimates of the government shutdown’s impacts on national park gateway economies. Overall, the 16-day shutdown resulted in 7.88 million fewer national park visitors in October 2013 compared to a three-year average (October 2010-12), and

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an estimated loss of $414 million in visitor spending in gateway and local communities across the country when comparing October 2013 to a three-year average (October 2010-12). These losses are part of an economic analysis of the shutdown’s effects on parks and neighboring communities that was released today. While the shutdown figures do not affect the 2012 economics report, they will weigh on the 2013 economics report due out later this year.


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annual economic report, with information by park and by state on visitor spending, jobs and other impacts, and

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the shutdown report, are available online at:

According to the 2012 economic analysis, 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).

For more state-by-state information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities go to[statename].