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Influx of Visitors to National Parks Has a Billion Dollar Economic Impact in 2012

Influx of Visitors to National Parks Has a Billion Dollar Economic Impact in 2012

Thank goodness our government leaders had the wisdom and foresight to set up a national park system. Ever since 1872 when Yellowstone became our nation’s very first national park, irreplaceable land and unique treasures have been protected from the threat of commercial development.

Imagine what it would be like if the majestic mountains, pristine lakes, water falls, fauna and wildlife were no longer protected from capitalistic interests. Would there be strip mining in Glacier National Park? Would the advocates of the “drill baby drill” energy policy have oil pipelines running past Old Faithful in the middle of Yellowstone?

Today, millions of appreciative American as well as tourists from around the world visit our Fabulous parks. They come to take in the panoramic views and to enjoy the natural beauty of our country. Unspoiled lands provide the opportunity to hike, fish and enjoy all types of outdoor activities. Eco-tourism has been gaining in popularity as people become more in touch with such things as global warming and carbon footprints. Even the most greedy businessman would have to concede that the economic value of a factory pales in comparison to our priceless recreational areas.

A new study recently was published about the tremendous positive effect on tourism and the local economy that cities and areas experience when they are located near a national park. The report focused on the large Rocky Mountain parks in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and included Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton national parks.

Hotel management companies have been taking notice of the impressive economic impact on areas near these protected lands. According to the report more than 11 million people visited these 4 parks in 2010 and spent in excess of $1 billion in towns and communities in the surrounding areas.

Glacier National Park in Montana had 2.2 million recreation visits, $108 million in spending and over 1,600 jobs were supported in the local economy because of its proximity to the park. In Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park had 2.67 million recreation visits, $424 million in local economic impact and more than 6,000 jobs were supported by the towns and areas near the park. Yellowstone’s economic impact affected areas near the park’s entrances in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. There were 3.64 million visitors, $334 million was spent and almost 5,000 jobs were supported.

Hotel industry statistics indicate a positive trend in the categories of eco-tourism, adventure travel and nature travel. There will be a need for more rooms and accommodations in the future. Following hotel industry trends and adapting them to this particular segment of the tourism market, hotel management companies will need to focus on even more green hotels. It is a natural fit that new hotels have as small of an environmental impact on the land as they are built near and even within the borders of our national parks.

Everyone who has the chance to visit a national park should make sure they take advantage of the opportunity. While there certainly is a need for factories and robust businesses to help drive our economy, there is also a need to make sure that we protect our national park system.