National park spending contributed $32 billion to U.S. economy

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Visitors take a mule ride through Grand Canyon National Park.
Visitors take a mule ride through Grand Canyon National Park.

Spending by last year’s record number of visitors to the U.S. national parks injected $32 billion into the economy and supported 295,000 jobs, according to a report released Thursday by the National Park Service (NPS). 

NPS director Jonathan Jarvis said that national park visitors spent $16.9 billion in communities located within 60 miles of a national park. 

“Each tax dollar invested in the National Park Service effectively returns $10 to the U.S. economy,” Jarvis said.  

The NPS report comes after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell earlier this week called for greater investment in the conservation of national parks. The NPS is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this year. 

Jewell also said that the country needs to work toward making national parks more relevant to an increasingly diverse and urbanized population. 

Some 307 million people visited the national parks in 2015, and of the $32 billion those visitors spent in the parks, 31.1% was for lodging, followed by food and beverages (20.2%), gas and oil (11.8%), admissions and fees (10.2%) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8%). 

Visitation to the 411 national parks is expected to increase further during the 2016 centennial year

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