A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the 905,984 visitors to Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in 2013 spent $54,961,300 in communities near the park. That spending supported 771 jobs in the local area.
“Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said park superintendent Brad Bennett. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and 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 by helping to sustain local communities.”
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne 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.
The 2013 economic benefit figures are somewhat lower than the 2012 results. The 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 accounted for most of the decline in park visitation. The authors also cited inflation adjustments for differences between visitation and visitor spending, jobs supported and overall effect on the U.S. economy.
According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverage (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).
The largest job categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).