A new report concludes that visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2016 spent an estimated $597 million in local gateway communities. The ripple effects of that spending had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $779 million and supported 9,365 jobs in nearby communities. The overall economic impacts of visitor spending during the National Park Service Centennial year increased seven percent from 2015 levels.
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “In 2016 park staff and the global park community welcomed over 3.3 million recreational visitors to Grand Teton National Park. Visitors from around the world experienced all that this majestic place has to offer while contributing significantly in economic benefits to our nearby communities.”
National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Grand Teton National Park ranked among the top five national park areas in terms of economic benefit along with Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Denali National Park.
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 $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; 271,000 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 percent).
Report authors also produced an interactive tool to illustrate their findings. 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 full report are available at the National Park Service Social Science Program webpage at go.nps.gov/vse.
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. In Wyoming, national park visitors spent an estimated $945 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands. These expenditures supported a total of 13,431 jobs, $392.1 million in labor income, $684.9 million in value added, and $1.2 billion in economic output in the Wyoming economy. There are several sites affiliated or managed by the National Park Service in Wyoming, including Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area; Devils Tower National Monument; Fort Laramie National Historic Site; Fossil Butte National Monument; Grand Teton National Park; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway; and Yellowstone National Park. Visit https://www.nps.gov/state/wy/index.htm for more information about National Park Service sites in Wyoming.