News Release

Tourism at Fort Donelson National Battlefield

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Date: May 22, 2018

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 208,817 visitors to Fort Donelson National Battlefield in 2017 spent $13,151,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 182 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $17,139,100.

“The Fort Donelson National Battlefield welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Brian McCutchen. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country 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 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.” 

“We are pleased to learn of the far-reaching benefit that Fort Donelson has on areas included within the study area. This analysis takes into account various visitor-related spending that reaches well outside that of Dover and Stewart County. Other communities that are within the determined economic benefit area include Clarksville, Paris, Murray, and Hopkinsville,” McCutchen added.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion. 

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).  

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:

Last updated: May 22, 2018

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