A new National Park Service report shows that 1.2 million visitors to Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 2019 spent $54 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 819 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of more than $58 million.
“We have been safely increasing access to Ozark National Scenic Riverways, one park in the national system of parks that support individual and collective physical and mental wellness,” said Superintendent Jason Lott. “We welcome people back to the park and are excited 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. It takes the efforts of our concession providers and hundreds of people from nearby communities to fully provide park visitors with food, drink, lodging and other services that complete the national park experience.”
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 $21 billion of direct spending by more than 327 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 340,500 jobs nationally; 278,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $41.7 billion.
Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effects with $4.2 billion in economic output. Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion.
Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.
Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore 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: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.