2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation

Publication and Source

Access to the contractor report in cooperation with the National Park Service

Short Description

The National Park system covers more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 401 sites across the nation. These lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS) serve as recreational destinations for visitors from across the nation and around the world. On vacations or on day trips, NPS visitors spend time and money in the gateway communities surrounding NPS sites. Spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. This economic effects analysis measures how spending by NPS visitors cycles through local gateway economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income.

The NPS has been measuring and reporting visitor spending and economic effects for the past 24 years; and for the past 14 years, these estimates have been made using the Money Generation Model (MGM2). For the 2012 analysis, the NPS in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a new model (the visitor spending effects model, or VSE model) to estimate visitor spending and economic effects. This report starts by describing the new VSE model and how it differs from the MGM2 model. Next, an overview of economic effects analyses is presented, followed by details about the data and methods used for this analysis. The report concludes by presenting estimates of NPS visitor spending in 2012 and resulting economic effects at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Park-level spending and economic effects estimates are included in the appendix.

Format and Retrieval

Full PDF available through the National Park Service.

Authors Cathy Cullinane Thomas, Chris Huber, Lynne Koontz.

Related Partners

Most people know that the National Park Service cares for national parks, a network of nearly 400 natural, cultural and recreational sites across the nation. The treasures in this system -- the first of its kind in the world -- have been set aside by the American people to preserve, protect, and share, the legacies of this land.
The USGS serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

Suggested Citation

Cullinane Thomas, C.M., C.C. Huber, and L. Koontz. 2014. 2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation. NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR—2014/765. Fort Collins, CO: National Park Service. 1-42 p.