A new National Park Service report shows that more than 2.5 million visitors to the national parks in South Florida, spent $206 million last year in surrounding communities. That spending supported over 2,700 jobs in South Florida.
In Biscayne National Park a half million visitors spent more than $29 million and sustained 374 jobs in the local area.
“Supportive neighbors and park partners, along with the beauty and the natural and cultural wonders of the park, helped to attract so many visitors,” said superintendent Brian Carlstrom.
The new report shows that national parks are significant drivers in the economy, returning $10 for every $1 that is invested in the National Park Service.
Parks are the primary economic engines of many gateway communities. Visitors come to the parks from all over the world to experience the amazing scenery, natural resources, history and wildlife that the parks provide. Nearby communities provide visitors with services that support thousands of mostly local jobs. Additional jobs are provided by building, educational and natural resourcerelated projects that take place in parks and utilize local companies.
“South Florida’s national parks improve the quality of life for everyone in South Florida by creating jobs, protecting the environment and providing opportunities for people to get outdoors and enjoy nature,” said Don Finefrock, executive director of the South Florida National Parks Trust, a nonprofit partner that supports all four parks through fundraising and community outreach.
According to the national economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging, followed by food and beverages, fuel, admissions, souvenirs and other expenses. The largest job categories supported by visitor spending were for restaurants and lodging. The report shows nearly $15 billion of direct spending by 274 million visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with most of them found in gateway communities. The spending had a cumulative benefit to the national economy of nearly $27 billion.
Combined 2013 report figures include those for Biscayne, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and Big Cypress National Preserve. The total for the four parks is up slightly from the previous year. This is while visitor spending was down by 1 percent nationally.
To learn more about national parks in Florida and how the National Park Service works with Florida communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/florida.