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Contact: Tracy Swartout, Deputy Superintendent, 360-569-6502
ASHFORD, WA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that more than 1.2 million recreation visitors to Mount Rainier National Park during 2015 spent $45.7M in communities surrounding the park and a net impact to the economy of approximately $58.3M. This spending supported approximately 596 jobs in the local area, not including the 100-105 permanent and 175-185 seasonal staff working directly for the park and another 450-500 commercial concessions service employees working in or near the park. Park visitation in the first two months of 2016 exceeds visitation for the same period in 2015 by 30 percent. The park anticipates another year of high visitation due in part to the celebrations and events associated with the NPS Centennial, including several weeks of fee-free days throughout 2016.
"Mount Rainier is a physical icon of the Pacific Northwest, and connects people to the land, as it has for centuries. The park is also home to a trove of natural and cultural resources that tell an important part of the history of the National Park Service," said park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. "The mountain attracts visitors from across the U.S. and around the world. While their destination may be the national park, they also enjoy connecting with our local communities, such as Eatonville, Greenwater, Enumclaw, Packwood and Ashford- as well as other public lands and destinations along the Chinook and Cayuse Scenic Byways. These local communities are also where many of our dedicated park employees, and their families, live."
National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. The information for Mount Rainier National Park is part of a peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas (U.S. Geological Survey) and Lynne Koontz (National Park Service). The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion. According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
This report and new interactive tool are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage at go.nps.gov/vse. The tool allows users to explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies.
To learn more about national parks in Washington and how the National Park Service works with Washington communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/WASHINGTON.