National park visits push +$51 million into southern W.Va.

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Paddlers on New River near Quinnimont, WV, Fayette County, New River Gorge Region
Paddlers in the New River Gorge were among visitors who contributed more than  $52 to the economy of southern West Virginia in 2012, according to the National Park Service.

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — More than one million visitors toured national park areas in southern West Virginia in 2012, spending more than $51 million during and supporting more than 685 jobs, according to a report released March 3, 2014, by the National Park Service.

The three units of national park in southern West Virginia hosted 1,280,320 visitors who spent $51,466,744, acording to Trish Kicklighter, superintendent for the New River Gorge National River, the Bluestone National Scenic River, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

According to the report, 39 percent of visitor spending across the U.S. supported employment in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, 27 percent supported employment through hotels, motels and B&Bs, 20 percent suppported employment through amusement and recreation.

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy,” Kicklighter said in the press release, ” returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service,

“It’s a big factor in our local economy as well,” she said.

The peer-reviewed visitor-spending analysis which Kicklighter cited was conducted by Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz, of the National Park Service, and Catherine Cullinane Thomas, of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The analysis examined $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park and includes report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

To download the report visit: http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm