By Molly Priddy, 3-02-12
||Caption: Sam Alper, a seasonal employee from Massachusetts, plays his guitar during a break between scenic tours of Lake McDonald. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Visitors to Glacier National Park spent nearly $109 million in 2010, which supported over 1,600 local jobs, according to a recent report from the National Park Service.
The report, “Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010,” was also issued in accordance with the U.S. Department of the Interior and highlighted the visitor numbers and money spent within 60 miles of the country’s 394 national parks.
In total, visitors across the country contributed $31 billion to local economies and supported roughly 258,000 jobs in 2010, the report states, which is an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009.
The economic impact figures are part of a peer-reviewed analysis based on $12 billion directly spent by the 210 million national park visitors in 2010. The figures did not include long-distance travel, airfares, or purchases made at home for items to use in the parks.
The study showed that the average multiplier across the local economies was 1.47, meaning that for every dollar spent in direct sales, another 47 cents is generated in the local area through secondary effects.
“It should be noted that the state and regional totals represent an accumulation of local impacts within roughly 60 miles of each park,” the report stated. “The total economic effects on each state or region would be much larger if we included all spending of NPS visitors within each state and used statewide multipliers instead of local ones to capture the secondary effects.”
Fifty-two percent of the spending and jobs cited in the report are related to the lodging, food and beverage service industry, while other retail accounted for 29 percent. Entertainment and amusement totaled 10 percent, gas and local transportation took 7 percent and local groceries accounted for 2 percent.
Local visitors made up about 29 percent of all visits, the report states, but account for less than 10 percent of the spending.
At Glacier National Park, 2010’s 2.2 million visitors spent a total of $108,880,000. Non-local visitors – those who live outside of the 60-mile radius – contributed $104,690,000. This money supported 1,632 jobs, the report states.
"Glacier National Park has historically been an economic driver in the state," park Superintendent Chas Cartwright said in a prepared statement. "This report shows the value that the many goods and services provided by local businesses are to the park visitor, as well as employment opportunities for the area."
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President Joe Unterreiner acknowledged the importance of Glacier Park as an economic driver in the valley, and Kalispell Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Diane Medler said national parks are a main reason first-time visitors come to Montana.
“It is huge, particularly for the seasonal industries and those businesses up there closer to the park,” Medler said. “It makes a big impact.”
Medler said local businesses draw most of their customers while the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open, and it is a goal to help the park promote the fact that it is open year-round and has activities for visitors in every season.
Across the state, there were 4,584,011 recreation visits to Montana’s national parks. Non-local spending totaled $291,405,000 and supported 4,390, according to the report.
Yellowstone National Park took in $334,445,000 in 2010, but the report had to account for some of that money going to Montana and some of it going to Wyoming.
According to the report, the state’s receiving the greatest economic impact from NPS visitor and payroll spending are California, Washington, D.C., Arizona, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.
For the full report, visit www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM
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