A new National Park Service report shows that more than 2.5 million visitors to the national parks in South Florida spent $206 million last year in surrounding communities. That spending supported roughly 2,700 jobs in the region.
Locally at Big Cypress National Preserve, the impact encompassed just over 1 million visitors, spending an estimated $76 million in Southwest Florida communities and creating approximately 997 jobs. Combined 2013 report figures include those for Biscayne, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, as well as Big Cypress. The total for the four parks is up slightly from the previous year, while visitor spending was down by 1 percent nationally.
“This report shows that park areas are an important part of our lives in the South Florida. They provide open space for people to enjoy and help to build a strong economy,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos.
The new report shows that national parks are significant drivers in the economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Parks are the primary economic engines of many gateway communities, and these nearby communities provide visitors with services that support thousands of mostly local jobs. Additional jobs are provided by building, educational and natural resource related projects that take place in parks and utilize local companies.
According to the national economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging, followed by food and beverages, fuel, admissions, souvenirs and other expenses. The largest job categories supported by visitor spending were for restaurants and lodging. The report shows nearly $15 billion of direct spending by 274 million visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with most of them found in gateway communities. The spending had a cumulative benefit to the national economy of nearly $27 billion.
To learn more about national parks in Florida and how the National Park Service works with Florida communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/florida. For more information about Big Cypress National Preserve, please visit the preserve website at www.nps.gov/bicy.