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National Parks Bring Texas-Sized Tourism Dollars

PHOTO: There were nearly 3.5 million visits to national parks in Texas last year, including Big Bend National Park. Photo credit: Robert Hensley/Flickr.
PHOTO: There were nearly 3.5 million visits to national parks in Texas last year, including Big Bend National Park. Photo credit: Robert Hensley/Flickr.
July 28, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - They are some of the most pristine areas in Texas, and a new study shows national parks are not just great places to spend the day but also major drivers of the local economy.

Last year alone, said National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson, there were nearly 3.5 million visits to national parks in Texas.

"Those visitors spent $173.4 million," he said, "which supported 2,300 jobs in the state."

July is National Park and Recreation Month, during which people across the nation are encouraged to get out of the house and check in on nature.

Nationwide, park visitation and visitor spending each declined slightly from the year before, mainly because of the 16-day government shutdown and the impact on national parks in the Northeast from Hurricane Sandy. Still, there were more than 270 million visits to national parks across the nation in 2013, with related spending at nearly $15 billion and some 240,000 jobs supported.

"Of all the jobs that we identified as supported by visitor spending in national parks," Olson said, "the bulk of those far and away - I think it was 197,000 - are in these local communities near national parks. So, this visitation and the jobs have a big impact on those local communities."

The Park Service report is online at nature.nps.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX