HOPKINS – A new National Park Service report shows that 145,928 visitors to Congaree National Park in 2018 spent $7,415,000 in surrounding communities.
That spending supported 93 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $8,730,000.
“Congaree welcomed visitors from all 50 states and 36 nations last year,” Superintendent K. Lynn Berry said. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. The park serves as an excellent 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 economists Catherine Cullinane, Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.
Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.
Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.
Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore 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
To learn more about national parks in South Carolina and how the National Park Service works with South Carolina communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/southcarolina
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