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July 19, 2021

Visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $28.6 billion contribution to the nation's economy and supported 234,000 jobs in 2020, according to an economics report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

The 2020 National Park Visitor Spending Effects Report is part of an annual effort that measures how money spent by park visitors moves through local economies, generating business activity and supporting jobs and income. The National Park Service (NPS) has measured visitor spending effects for the past 30 years, to demonstrate the economic importance of the nation’s most iconic destinations.  

 237 million visits were made to national parks in 2020, down 27% from 2019, attributed largely to temporary park closures and restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Visitors to national parks spent an estimated $14.5 billion dollars in gateway communities surrounding parks. The lodging sector experienced the greatest impact from park visitors, with an estimated 43,100 jobs and $5 billion in economic output supported in this sector nationally. The restaurant sector experienced the second highest impact, with an estimated $3 billion in economic output and 45,900 jobs supported in this sector nationally. 

The USGS developed the National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects model in 2012, and has been collaborating with the NPS since then to maintain the model, collect and improve visitor spending data, and to produce annual visitor spending estimates. An interactive tool developed and maintained by computer scientists at the Fort Collins Science Center allows users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and park-specific economies.  


Infographic showing national park visitor spending effects, including money spent, jobs supported, and top sectors impacted.
Infographic using information from the 2020 Visitor Spending Effects in National Parks Economics Report. For full infographic text, visit: domain.)

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