Yosemite National Park, CA – Despite a 13 percent dip in visitors and their spending last year, new National Parks Service numbers reflect the continued enormous impact of Yosemite National Park tourism to the Mother Lode.
Figures shared in this latest NPS report show that 4,336,889 visitors to Yosemite in 2017 spent $451,782,000 in communities near the park; also that the spending supported 6,666 local jobs and had a cumulative $589,343,700 impact on the local economy. The supported jobs figure reflects about a 15 percent decrease from the previous year.
It is worth noting that 2016 was the year of the highly anticipated and promoted National Parks Centennial Celebration. Last year, as reported here, 5,028,868 visitors to Yosemite National Park spent $520,629,100 in communities nearby; supporting 7,883 jobs in the local area with a cumulative local economic benefit of $686,339,500. The 2016 visitors total shattered a previous attendance record that was set in 2015 during the park’s own well-publicized and ballyhooed 125th anniversary, as reported here.
Yosemite remains in the Top 5 of the most visited national parks, logging over four million visitors last year. The top four ahead of it, tourism-wise, are Great Smoky Mountains, which drew more than 11 million visitors park year, about twice the amount as number two Grand Canyon, which surpassed more than six million visitors for the first time. Zion National Park in Utah and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado round out the list.
National, Local Economic Benefits
Noting that the park welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world, Yosemite Superintendent Michael Reynolds acknowledges, “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service — and it’s a big factor in our 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.”
Economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service conducted the peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis for the 2017 report. It reflects $18.2 billion in direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors within communities inside a 60-mile radius of a national park.
At Yosemite last year, visitor spending by category broke down as follows: 39 percent for hotels ($177 million); just under 17 percent in restaurants (over $76 million); 11 percent relating to recreation industries (just over $50 million). Just under nine percent went for gas ($39 million); just under eight percent covered retail spending ($34 million) and groceries ($32 million). Transportation spending came in at around six percent ($29 million); camping about three percent (under $13 million).
Nationally, visitor spending supported 306,000 jobs of which more than 78 percent are found within the adjacent gateway communities. Overall, the cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy came to $35.8 billion.