A new National Park Service report shows that 840,601 visitors to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in 2015 spent $52.7 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 802 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $66.2 million.
“Cumberland Gap NHP welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” explains Superintendent Sula Jacobs. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to Appalachia and the incredible scenery and richness of people 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.”
“10,300 visitors, including 2,500 school children, attended our early April 2016 An American Memoir: From the Hearts of Our Ancestors…Into the Hands of Our Children,” references Jacobs. “This event brought visitors in from near and far and as it was three days, visitors spent significant time in the Tri-State area.” Jacobs applauds Bell County, Kentucky Tourism and Kentucky’s Pine Mountain State Resort Park and Virginia’s Wilderness Road State Park for their tremendous assistance with the event. “We truly are thankful for the incredible partners which we have in all three states.” Jacobs also highlights the park’s robust volunteer program. “In 2015, 323 volunteers selflessly contributed 19,306 hours. This tremendous support allows us to provide visitors a wonderful welcome to their national park, offer a medley of exciting and unique programs, maintain trails, and assist campground visitors.”
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 $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.
According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year 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: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.