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Contact: Tracy Swartout, 360-569-6502
ASHFORD, WA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that nearly than 1.4 million recreation visitors to Mount Rainier National Park during 2016 spent $50.7M in communities surrounding the park with a net impact to the economy of approximately $64.8M. This spending supported approximately 650 jobs in the local area, not including the 100-110 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 to support lodging, dining, mountaineer-led climbing and other essential visitor services. Park visitation for the National Park Service Centennial in 2016 reached levels not seen in the park since visitation at Mount Rainier peaked in the 1990s. Despite an incredibly wet fall in the Puget Sound area, visitation at the park remained strong through the end of 2016.
“Mount Rainier continues to provide a world-class travel destination for visitors from around the globe as well as residents of the Pacific Northwest,” said park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “The Centennial was an opportunity to bring even greater awareness about the value of our nation’s National Parks to the American public, so while their destinations may be the national parks, millions of park visitors also connect with our local communities, providing a valuable economic investment in the area.”
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 $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 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. -NPS