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Big South Fork 2017 tourism creates $24 million in economic benefits

ONEIDA, TN - A new National Park Service report shows that 761,200 visitors to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in 2017 spent $22,700,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 299 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $24,100,000.

  big south fork

"Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world," said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas. "We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. Visiting one of the five units of the National Park System in Kentucky or the 13 units in Tennessee is a great way to introduce visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National Park Service tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it's a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities."

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 $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9%) followed by food and beverages (27.5%), gas and oil (12.1%), admissions and fees (10.0%), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1%), and local transportation (7.5%).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. 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 National Park Service Social Science Program website at

To learn more about national parks in Tennessee and Kentucky and how the National Park Service works with Tennessee and Kentucky communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, you may visit and

Published June 27, 2018

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