Tourism to Sleeping Bear Dunes Creates Economic Benefits

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Date: April 22, 2016

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,535,633 visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) in 2015 spent an estimated $163.4 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 2,586 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $205.8 million.

“Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Tom Ulrich. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain the local economy.”

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 $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). To download the report, visit The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Michigan and how the NPS works with Michigan communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Last updated: April 26, 2016

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