(WFXR) – A new report from the National Parks Service (NPS) shows that 14.1 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2020 spent $ 1.1 billion in the communities around the boardwalk.
The spending helped support 15,500 jobs in the area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $ 1.3 billion.
“The Blue Ridge Parkway was built in part to support the economic vitality of the region it traverses in North Carolina and Virginia. The annual Visitor Spending Report reminds us all of the important partnership between the park and local communities along the route to provide visitors with quality experiences both on and off the boardwalk. After entering the 2021 visitor season, we expect another year of high attendance. We encourage visitors to plan ahead for all that the boardwalk and its surrounding communities have to offer.
Tracy Swartout, Superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists from the NPS and the US Geological Survey.
The report shows $ 14.5 billion in direct spending by more than 237 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.
This spending supported 234,000 jobs across the country; 194,400 of these jobs are in these host communities.
The report states that the cumulative profit for the US economy was $ 28.6 billion.
Nationally, the accommodation sector benefited the most with economic output of $ 5 billion. Next comes the restaurant sector with an economic output of $ 3 billion.
Visitor accommodation spending supported over 43,100 jobs and over 45,900 restaurant jobs.
Visitor spending in recreation industries supported over 18,100 jobs and retail spending supported over 14,300 jobs.
An interactive tool, which can be found by click here. was set up that allows users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and production effects by sector for national, state and local economies.