National Park tourism in California creates $2.3 billion in economic benefit

New report shows visitor spending supports more than 24,000 jobs in the Golden State
Channel Islands National Park. Photo: QT Luong / www.terragalleria.com

Channel Islands National Park. Photo: QT Luong / www.terragalleria.com

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 37,363,392 visitors to national parks in California spent $1.65 billion in the state in 2014. That spending resulted in 24,185 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $2.37 billion.

“The national parks of California attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long vacation, visitors come for a great experience, and end up spending some money along the way.  This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and a big factor in the state’s economy as well, a result we can all support.”
There are over two dozen national parks in California, more than any other state: Cabrillo National Monument, César E. Chávez National Monument, Channel Islands National Park, Death Valley National Park, Devils Postpile National Monument, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, Fort Point National Historic Site, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, John Muir National Historic Site, Joshua Tree National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Manzanar National Historic Site, Mojave National Preserve, Muir Woods National Monument, Pinnacles National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Redwood National and State Parks, Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Sequoia National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument – Tule Lake Unit, and Yosemite National Park.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.
According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs (9.9 percent).
To download the report visit nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. The report includes information for visitor spending by park and by state.

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

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