News Release

Cape Cod National Seashore Creates Over $638 Million Dollars in Economic Benefits Report shows visitor spending supports 6,098 jobs in local economy

Looking down from a high sandy bluff to a summer ocean beach crowded with people.
A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 3,926,462 visitors to Cape Cod National Seashore in 2018 spent $495 million dollars in communities near the park.


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News Release Date: May 28, 2019

Contact: Brian Carlstrom, Superintendent, 508-957-0701

WELLFLEET, Mass– A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 3,926,462 visitors to Cape Cod National Seashore in 2018 spent $495 million dollars in communities near the park. That spending supported 6,098 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $638 million dollars.

“Cape Cod National Seashore welcomes visitors from across New England, the country, and around the world,” said Superintendent Brian Carlstrom. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the seashore as a way to introduce our visitors to Cape Cod 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 the Cape economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our towns and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.” 

The 2018 Visitor Spending Effects analysis incorporates newly available survey data for Cape Cod National Seashore and 18 additional parks in the National Park System. The survey was part of a pilot project to develop long-term, scientific monitoring and collection of visitor data during a park’s peak season. Previous spending estimates for Cape Cod were calculated by using generalized visitor spending data from other parks in the National Park System. The new survey data shows that people spent more time in the park, stayed longer in gateway communities and spent more money during their visit. The updated data, change in visitation, and inflation contributed to an overall 180% increase in estimated visitor spending Cape Cod this year. The new data showed an upward effect on visitor spending estimates for the state of Massachusetts and for the Northeast region. This chart shows the comparison of Cape Cod National Seashore spending from the pilot project with previous general profiles.   
  2017 Visitor Spending
2018 Visitor Spending Effects Change % Change
Visits 4,125,419 3,926,462 198,957 -4.8%
Visitor Spending
$176.5 $495.0 $318.5 180.4%
Output ($Million) $221.5 $638.6 $417.1 188.3%
Jobs 2,103 6,098 3,995 190%

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.

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

Last updated: May 29, 2019

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