Jul 8, 2022 - News

NPS lands are a major boon to Georgia economies

Visitor spending at Georgia's National Parks by category
Data: National Park Service; Chart: Nicki Camberg/Axios

Hikers, paddlers and RV hook-up hunters who visited National Parks Service lands in Georgia last year spent more than $350 million in the surrounding communities.

  • That helped support more than 350,000 jobs and added hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies, the federal agency says.

Driving the news: The NPS recently released its annual report on the economic ripple effects that national parks, monuments, recreation areas and other lands it oversees.

Zoom in: The Chattahoochee National Recreation Area generated an economic output — which NPS describes as the total estimated value of the production of goods and services supported by visitors' spending — of $236 million, followed by Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park with $185 million.

Zoom out: Nationwide, nearly 300 million people spent more than $20 billion in the communities surrounding NPS areas in 2021.

  • No other NPS land could compete with North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway and Tennessee's Great Smokey Mountains, which drew visitors who spent a total of $2.6 billion in the surrounding communities.

Overall, Georgia's fishing, RVing and hiking enthusiasts helped add $10.8 billion to the state's GDP in 2020, the Outdoor Industry Association says, citing U.S. commerce department data.

What they’re saying: “Georgia’s natural wonders pull visitors beyond traditional gateway destinations” and particularly benefit rural areas, says Mark Jaronski, the Georgia Department of Economic Development deputy commissioner for tourism.

The ripple effects are indeed real.

Of note: The amount of money visitors spent in Georgia dipped during the first year of the pandemic, from $439 million to $358 million, but climbed the following year.

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