Tourism to National Parks of Southern West Virginia Creates Nearly $67.1 Million in Economic Benefits

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Date: May 8, 2017
Contact: Julena Campbell, 304-465-6523

Glen Jean, WV – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,347,957 visitors to New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area spent $58,604,300 in communities near the three parks in 2016. That spending supported 877 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economies of $67,089,900. The parks span four counties in southern West Virginia:  Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers.

“The national parks of Southern West Virginia welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors from across the country and around the world last year,” said Superintendent Lizzie Watts. “We are delighted to share the stories of these special places with so many people. 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 economies as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our many 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 U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the NPS.  The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).
This year, report authors 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: The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in West Virginia and how the National Park Service works with West Virginia communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to
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Last updated: May 8, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Gauley River National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 246

Glen Jean, WV 25846-0246


(304) 465-0508

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