National Park Tourism in Virginia Creates $1.617 Billion in Economic Benefit

The Booker T. Washington National Monument is located just outside of Roanoke in Hardy VA.

National Park Tourism in Virginia Creates $1.617 Billion in Economic Benefit

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 22,171,018  visitors to national parks in Virginia spent $1,140,300,000 in the state in 2018. That spending resulted in 16,765 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $1,616,600,000.

“The national parks of Virginia attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Northeast Region Director Gay Vietzke. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way.  This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and a big factor in our state’s economy as well, a result we can all support.”

Some national parks in Virginia are administered as part of the NPS National Capital Region. Virginia’s National Park Service sites in the Northeast Region include:

  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
  • Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
  • Booker T. Washington National Monument
  • Fort Monroe National Monument
  • Colonial National Historical Park (includes Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield)
  • Richmond National Battlefield Park
  • Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
  • Petersburg National Battlefield
  • George Washington Birthplace National Monument
  • Thomas Stone National Monument
  • Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore 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 NPS Social Science Program webpage:

To learn more about national parks in state name and how the National Park Service works with state name communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

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