Tourism to Saguaro National Park creates $66.5 million in Economic Benefit for Tucson

Cactus forest

The Cactus Forest is a fantastic gem hidden on the eastern side of Tucson

NPS / Barney Riley

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Value Diversity
Year Accomplished:

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 753,440 visitors to Saguaro National Park in 2015 spent nearly $47.5 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 691 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $66.5 million.

"Saguaro National Park welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world," said Superintendent Darla Sidles. "We love engaging the public in the story of Saguaro National Park and the experiences the park provides. 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 here in the Tucson economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of Tucson and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain the community."

Sidles added, "This is our Centennial year and we are making a concerted effort to engage a broader constituency both locally and abroad. There is something here for everyone, and we invite all of our Tucson community to Find Your Park, here at home." 

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 $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).

Report authors this year 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 Arizona and how the National Park Service works with Arizona communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to