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Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors spend $923 million in gateway communities
By Jeaneane Payne

  chief ranger steve kloster
Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- Photo by Jeaneane Payne.

In 2017, Great Smoky Mountains National Park had 11,338,893 visitors. A National Park Service (NPS) report shows these visitors spent $922,947,100 in communities near the park. That spending supported 13,942 jobs in the local area.

Every dollar invested by American taxpayers in the National Park Service returns $10 to the economy.

“We are glad to work alongside our business communities in helping create lifelong memories and traditions that bring people to our area year after year,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “While our gateway communities benefit from visitor spending, they also provide a critical role in shaping the overall impression of a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

The report shows a $1.2 billion cumulative economic benefit to communities within 60 miles of the Smokies. According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending near the Smokies was:

Lodging and camping - 35%
Food and beverages - 24%
Gas and oil - 11%
Local transportation - 11%
Souvenirs and other expenses -10%
Recreation industries - 9%

On a national level, the report shows there was $18.2 billion of direct spending by over 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; over 255,000 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:

Lodging and camping - 32.9%
Food and beverages - 27.5%
Gas and oil - 12.1%
Souvenirs and other expenses - 10.1%
Admissions and fees - 10%
Local transportation - 7.5%

Published May 4, 2018

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