Smokies tourism translates into dollars for local economy

According to a new National Park Service report, the 9.4 million people who visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013 brought more than $734 million to communities near the park, supporting 10,734 local jobs. 

These figures are slightly down from 2012, when visitors spent about $741 in local communities. The 16-day government shutdown in October accounted for most of the difference, though the report’s authors also cited inflation adjustments as a cause. 

U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber conducted the survey along with Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. Their report showed $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million national park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park, supporting more than 237,000 jobs for a cumulative economic benefit fo $26.5 billion. Lodging accounted for about 30 percent of the spending, followed by food and drink at 27 percent and fuel at 12 percent. 

The full report is available at www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm

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