HARRISON — A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,357,057 visitors to Buffalo National River [Arkansas] in 2014, spent $56.6 million in gateway communities surrounding the park. Visitors’ spending supported 890 jobs while adding a cumulative monetary benefit of $65.1 million to the local economy.
“Buffalo National River welcomes visitors from across the region, across the country, and increasingly from around the world,” said Superintendent Kevin Cheri. “Visitation is growing steadily and as a result, local businesses are seeing the economic benefits. In 2014, visitation was up 20.6% and visitor spending increased 22.6%. We appreciate the support of our community partners and are pleased that park visitation helps sustain the local economy.”
The 2014 National Park Visitor Spending Effects is a peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. On a national level, the report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.
According to the 2014 report, park visitor spending trends were for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).