A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows 204,522 visitors to Congaree National Park in 2022 spent about $11,831,000 in communities near the park.
That spending supported 138 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $14,220,000.
“Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 300 million visitors every year. The impact of tourism to national parks is undeniable: bringing jobs and revenue to communities in every state in the country and making national parks an essential driver to the national economy,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.
“For the second year in a row Congaree has welcomed over 200,000 annual visitors to the largest remaining old-growth bottomland forest in the United States.” said Superintendent Greg Hauburger. “The proximity of the park to multiple metropolitan areas is a driver for the local economy, supporting almost $12M in local spending.”
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists at the National Park Service. The report shows $23.9 billion of direct spending by nearly 312 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 378,400 jobs nationally; 314,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $50.3 billion.
As for the economics of visitor spending, the lodging sector had the highest direct effects, with $9 billion in economic output nationally. The restaurant sector had the second greatest effects, with $4.6 billion in economic output nationally.
The 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: Visitor Spending Effects – Economic Contributions of National Park Visitor Spending – Social Science (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).
To learn more about national parks in South Carolina and how the National Park Service works with South Carolina communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to the state’s NPS webpage: South Carolina (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).