News Release

Tourism to Great Smoky Mountain National Park creates $1.38 Billion in Economic Benefits

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: June 29, 2021
Contact: Caitlin Worth, (865)436-1207

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 12,095,721 visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2020 spent $1,024,024,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 14,707 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $1.38 billion. 

“In spite of an incredibly difficult year in the world and in our neighboring communities, we are proud to have worked alongside our communities to serve visitors to this area in 2020,” said Superintendent Cash. “We remain committed to safely serving visitors in our communities and the park as they continue to explore our area and find the amazing resources the Smokies have to offer.” 

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. The report shows $14.5 billion of direct spending by more than 237 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 234,000 jobs nationally; 194,400 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $28.6 billion. 

Looking at the economics of visitor spending nationally, the lodging sector had the highest direct effects, with $5 billion in economic output. The restaurants sector was had the second greatest effects, with $3 billion in economic output. Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 43,100 jobs and more than 45,900 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 18,100 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 14,300 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 on the NPS Social Science Program page on

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

Last updated: July 28, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us