A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1.5 million visitors to Buffalo National River in 2020 spent $66.3 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 960 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $76.1 million.
“Buffalo National River is a one of a kind Arkansas jewel that attracts visitors from all over the country. During the Covid-19 pandemic, even more folks came out to enjoy the river and the outdoors. It is great to see our local communities' benefit from the positive economic impacts from park visitors.” said Superintendent Mark Foust. “We are working hard with Buffalo River Watershed partners to conserve the National River and provide for its enjoyment for future generations of visitors, especially at a time when park visitation is increasing.”
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Across the country, the report shows $14.5 billion of direct spending by more than 237 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 234,000 jobs nationally; 194,400 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $28.6 billion.
Looking at the economics of National Park Service visitor spending nationally, the lodging sector had the highest direct effects, with $5 billion in economic output. The restaurants sector had the second greatest effects, with $3 billion in economic output. National Park Service visitor spending on lodging supported more than 43,100 jobs and more than 45,900 jobs in restaurants across the country. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 18,100 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 14,300 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 on the NPS Social Science Program page on NPS.gov