A National Park Service report released Friday shows 6 million visitors to the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2013 spent $138.9 million in communities near the park. The spending also supported more than 1,698 jobs in the local area.
Those figures are up from last year’s report, which showed 5.6 million visitors in 2012, making a $126 million impact.
“The Natchez Trace Parkway extends 444 miles through 41 county and municipal jurisdictions in the states of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi,” said Parkway Superintendent Mary Risser. “We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world. We are delighted to share the story of this place, 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 peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber, U.S. Geological Survey economists, and Lynn Koontz for the National Park Service.
The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 237,000 jobs nationally, with 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.
According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitors spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).
The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).