Great Smokies is Top Money Generating National Park Service Unit in 2010
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According to a recently-released National Park Service (NPS) study, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only the nation's most visited national park, it also tops the 397 national park units in visitor spending. The study estimates that in 2010 the Park's 9 million visitors spent over $818 million in the gateway communities surrounding the Park. The study also estimates that 11,367 local jobs were supported by Park visitor spending.
The study, "Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010", was conducted by Dr. Daniel Stynes of the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies at Michigan State University. According to Stynes' study the National Park Service received 281 million recreational visits in 2010 and park visitors spent $12.13 billion in local gateway regions.
The study provides a park-by-park and state-by-state breakdowns of each park unit's visitation, visitor spending, and local jobs supported at NPS units from Alaska to the Virgin Islands. The top five NPS units in terms of spending generated were Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN/NC) with $818 million, Grand Canyon (AZ) at $415 million, Yosemite (CA) with $354 million, Yellowstone (MT/WY/ID) at $334 million, and Blue Ridge Parkway (VA/NC) with $299 million.
The spending estimates at each park were derived from a money generation model that begins with a park's visitation, party size, length of stay, and proportion of local vs. non-local visitors. Those statistics are combined with locally-indexed cost estimates for restaurants, lodging, amusements, locally-purchased fuel and transportation, and retail spending.
The entire study can be found at: http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/docs/NPSSystemEstimates2010.pdf
Did You Know?
What lives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Although the question sounds simple, it is actually extremely complex. Right now scientists think that we only know about 17 percent of the plants and animals that live in the park, or about 17,000 species of a probable 100,000 different organisms.