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Parkway visitors generated $1.1 billion in 2019, report finds

A new report from the National Park Service shows that the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 14.9 million 2019 visitors spent $1.1 billion in communities near the park, supporting 16,341 jobs with a cumulative $1.4 billion benefit to the local economy. 

Economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service conducted the peer-reviewed spending analysis. Nationwide, it shows that 327 million park visitors spent $21 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, supporting 340,500 jobs, of which 278,000 are found in gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $41.7 billion. 

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effect with $4.2 billion in economic output. Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion. This supported 58,000 lodging jobs, 61,000 restaurant jobs, 28,000 recreation jobs and 20,000 retail jobs. 

For an interactive tool that allows users to explore the data, visit www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

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