Just as the Blue Ridge Parkway prepares to welcome visitors for the 2017 season, a new National Park Service report shows that visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2016 spent $979,334,200 in communities near the park; and that spending supported 15,649 jobs in the region having a cumulative impact to local economies of $1,341,343,100.
As many of the Parkway’s campgrounds and visitor centers have opened for the 2017 season this past weekend, the report reinforces the connection between the Parkway and its neighboring communities. While park staff are eager to welcome visitors of all ages to enjoy the rich cultural and outdoor recreation experiences found across the 469-mile route, local communities are also preparing attractions and services for these same visitors.
From Waynesboro, Virginia to Waynesville, North Carolina, the Parkway passes through 29 counties and many villages, towns, and cities across the two states. “The Parkway is a strong economic engine for our community, and many others,” says Lynn Collins, Executive Director of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. “The 2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects report reinforces the value of having the Parkway in our county and is an important reminder that tourism to national parks makes a difference for all of us. Haywood County is proud to provide Parkway visitors with amenities that complete their Parkway visit; and based on this report, we look forward to a robust 2017 season.”
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%).
Report authors this year produced an online, interactive tool where 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 report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.