News Release

2019 Tourism to Big South Fork NRRA Created over $25 Million in Economic Benefits:

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Date: June 15, 2020
Contact: Christopher Derman, 423-569-9778

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that over 750,000 visitors to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in 2019 spent $23,600,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 286 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $25,500,000.

"Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world," said Superintendent Niki Nicholas. "We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. Visiting one of the 13 units of the National Park System in Tennessee is a great way to introduce visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National Park Service 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 of the US Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $21 billion of direct spending by more than 328 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 341,000 jobs nationally. More than 278,000 jobs exist in communities adjacent to parks. The cumulative benefit to the US economy was $41.7 billion.

According to the 2019 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (24.24 percent), gas (21.27 percent), followed by restaurants (16.93 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year 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:

To learn more about national parks in Tennessee and how the National Park Service works with Tennessee communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Last updated: June 15, 2020

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