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Report: Mo. National Park Visits Bring in Millions, Supports Jobs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – According to a new National Park Service report, 3.9 million visitors to Missouri’s national parks last year brought in $287 million in revenue and supported 4,758 jobs.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – According to a new National Park Service report, 3.9 million visitors to Missouri’s national parks last year brought in $287 million in revenue and supported 4,758 jobs.

The peer-reviewed National Park Service (NPS) visitor spending analysis shows nation-wide $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.4 million park visitors at communities within 60 miles of a national park.

According to the report, the spending supports nearly 237,000 jobs nationally and 197,000 jobs in the park communities. The spending also had a $26.5 billion benefit to the U.S. economy.

"The national parks of Missouri attract millions of visitors a year from across the country and around the world," says Patricia Trapp, acting director of NPS's Midwest Region, which includes Missouri and 12 more states. "Whether it's a day trip of a long family vacation, they come for a great experience -- and they end up spending a little money along the way, too. This new report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. This reality makes parks tourism an important factor in Missouri's economy as well. It's a result we all can support."

Numbers from the report show a decline in Missouri park visits and revenue. In 2012, Missouri's national parks attracted 4.17 million visitors who spent $298 million supporting nearly 5,000 in the state.

According to the authors of the report, the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 accounted for most of the national decline in park visitation. The economists also cited inflation adjustments for differences between visitation and visitor spending, jobs supported and overall effect on the U.S. economy.

According to the national report, most park visitor spending was for the following:

  • Lodging (30.3 percent)
  • Food and beverages (27.3 percent)
  • Gas and oil (12.1 percent)
  • Admissions and fees (10.3 percent).

Souvenirs and other expenses accounted for the remaining 10 percent.

Nationally, the largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

Missouri's national parks are Harry Truman National Historic Site, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Ozark National Scenic River, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, George Washington Carver National Monument, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis.

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