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Contact: Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, Linda Friar or Mary Plumb, 305-242-7714
Contact: Biscayne National Park, Matt Johnson, 786-335-3679
Contact: Big Cypress National Preserve, Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107
HOMESTEAD, Florida – A new National Park Service report shows that over two and a half million visitors to the national parks in South Florida, spent $206 million last year in surrounding communities. That spending supported over 2,700 jobs in South Florida. In Everglades National Park 1,047,116 visitors spent over $96 million and supported 1302 jobs in surrounding communities.
“Supportive neighbors and park partners, along with the beauty and the natural and cultural wonders of Everglades National Park, helped to attract so many visitors,” said acting Superintendent Shawn Benge.
The new report shows that national parks are significant drivers in the economy, returning ten dollars for every one dollar that is invested in the National Park Service. Parks are the primary economic engines of many gateway communities. Visitors come to the parks from all over the world to experience the amazing scenery, natural resources, history and wildlife that the parks provide. Nearby communities provide visitors with services that support thousands of mostly local jobs. Additional jobs are provided by building, educational and natural resource related projects that take place in parks and utilize local companies.
“South Florida’s national parks improve the quality of life for everyone in South Florida by creating jobs, protecting the environment and providing opportunities for people to get outdoors and enjoy nature,” said Don Finefrock, Executive Director of the South Florida National Parks Trust, a nonprofit partner that supports all four parks through fundraising and community outreach.
According to the national economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging, followed by food and beverages, fuel, admissions, souvenirs and other expenses. The largest job categories supported by visitor spending were for restaurants and lodging. The report shows nearly $15 billion of direct spending by 274 million visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with most of them found in gateway communities. The spending had a cumulative benefit to the national economy of nearly $27 billion.
Combined 2013 report figures include those for Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and Big Cypress National Preserve. The total for the four parks is up slightly from the previous year. This is while visitor spending was down by 1 percent nationally.