Tourism to Virgin Islands National Park creates $61,113,100 in economic benefits. A new NPS report shows visitor spending supports 563 jobs in the local economy of St. John. A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 304,408 visitors to the park in 2017 spent $42,473,900 in communities near the park. That spending supported a cumulative benefit to the local economy of more than $61 million.
“Virgin Islands National Park welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said acting Superintendent Steve Black. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS, and it’s a big factor in the local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.
“Obviously, last year’s storms have had a significant impact on the economy of St John” said Black. “Through the efforts of NPS employees, local community members and volunteers, the park was rapidly reopened so that visitors could again feel welcome on this beautiful island.”
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.
The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.
According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent) and local transportation (7.5 percent).
The authors of the report 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: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.
To learn more about national parks in the Virgin Islands and how the National Park Service works with V.I. communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment and provide outdoor recreation, go to https://www.nps.gov/viis.
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