Press Release Apr 21, 2016

National Park Visitation Generated $32 Billion for National Economy in 2015

Boost to Local Economies Underscores Need to Adequately Fund, Maintain Parks

WASHINGTON – National park visitation generated $32 billion for the U.S. economy and supported nearly 300,000 jobs in 2015, according to the National Park Service’s annual report on the effect of park visitors’ spending released today. The number reflects the economic impact national park visitors have on gateway communities, including sales, lodging and jobs supported, as well as the impact on the national economy as a whole.

Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association:

“Today’s report demonstrates once again that our national parks not only protect and preserve many of America’s landscapes and historic sites, they are also powerful economic engines for our country. Every dollar Congress invests in the National Park Service produces $10 in economic benefits nationally, which is one of many important reasons why it critical for Congress to better fund them.

“Record-breaking crowds visited our national parks in 2015, and more are expected this summer as we celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. Yet, while visitation and spending are high, parks’ budgets remain too low. Superintendents don’t have the rangers or resources they need to properly run our parks, forcing them to do more with less. In fact, our parks are facing $12 billion in repair needs, and that number continues to grow because of insufficient funding from Congress.

“If we don’t invest in our national parks, we not only jeopardize the future of these treasured sites, but also the economic future of their gateway communities. In this centennial year of the National Park Service and beyond, members of Congress should work together to ensure parks have the resources they need to protect both America’s favorite places and the gateway communities that depend on them.”

Background: National parks continue to be major economic drivers for local communities and the nation. For every dollar Congress invests in the National Park Service, $10 is returned to the American economy. Much of that money directly benefits parks’ gateway communities as visitors stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and buy goods and services from local businesses.

This remarkable level of economic return comes from record-breaking crowds heading into national parks. National parks received more than 307 million visitors in 2015, a record likely to be broken this year as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial.

Despite this extraordinary return on investment and record popularity, the agency’s funding is far from adequate—even after taking into account the boost in the National Park Service’s budget last year. In fact, national parks face a $12 billion repair backlog, yet the Park Service gets only 60 cents for every $1 it needs each year just to keep the backlog from growing. There are also not enough rangers and other staff at parks as they experience record-breaking crowds, with Park Service staff declining more than 10% since 2010.

Earlier this year, NPCA voiced support for President Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which calls for a significant increase in funding for the National Park Service.

The 2015 National Park Visitor Spending Effects report is available here.

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About National Parks Conservation Association

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.