(WFXR) – A new report from the National Parks Service (NPS) report shows that 14.1 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2020 spent $1.1 billion in communities around the parkway.
The spending helped to support 15,500 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $1.3 billion.
“The Blue Ridge Parkway was built in part to support the economic vitality of the region it passes through in North Carolina and Virginia. The annual visitor spending report reminds us all of the important partnership between the park and local communities along the route to provide quality visitor experiences both on and off the Parkway. Having just embarked on the 2021 visitor season, we expect another year of high visitation. We encourage visitors to plan ahead for all the Parkway and its neighboring communities have to offer.”Tracy Swartout, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists with the NPS and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The report shows $14.5 billion of direct spending by more than 237 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.
This spending supported 234,000 jobs across the country; 194,400 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities.
The report indicates that the cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $28.6 billion.
Nationally, the lodging sector benefited the most with $5 billion in economic output. Next was the restaurant sector with $3 billion on economic output.
Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 43,100 jobs and more than 45,900 jobs in restaurants.
Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 18,100 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 14,300 jobs.
An interactive tool, which can be found by clicking here. has been set up which enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value-added, and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies.