A record 4.25 million Yellowstone National Park visitors spent $524 million in communities near the park last year, supporting 8,156 jobs and resulting in a total economic impact of $680.4 million.
According to a National Park Service report, visitors to national parks across the country were responsible for $18.4 billion of direct spending in communities within 60 miles of a national park. Total park visitation topped 330 million this year, and the cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy is estimated at nearly $35 billion dollars.
The peer-reviewed spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service and is available at nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.
Nationally, Yellowstone ranks No. 5 for the number of jobs it supports and No. 6 for visitor spending. Blue Ridge National Park tops both of those lists.
The largest portion of Yellowstone’s visitor spending, 33 percent, went toward hotels. Restaurants were second with $85.6 million and recreation industries were third with $59.8 million. Yellowstone’s economic impact has been rising significantly the past three years—the 2016 figure is 34 percent higher than 2013’s.
“Yellowstone attracts people from around the country and the world who contribute significantly to the local economies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk in a press release. “The economic benefits our neighbors enjoy are a direct result of preserving Yellowstone’s spectacular thermal features, abundant wildlife and dramatic scenery. As we look to the future, preservation has to be the key value we consider as we address increasing visitation. Protecting the park also protects the regional tourism economy.”