It’s easy to overlook the National Parks as viable sources of income for the nation, but the numbers don’t lie.
In 2015, the National Parks contributed about $32 billion to the national economy through jobs, labor, and tourism. While there have been many nay-sayers against the mission of the National Park Service, you can’t doubt that the numbers don’t lie.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway and North Carolina and Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park both contributed “more than $1 billion in tourism benefits to the communities surrounding their borders,” as released in a report relating the National Parks to the national economy.
In 2014, the system was responsible for about $29.7 billion toward the national economy, and that number has increased over the last year. The lodging industry was the most prominent industry affected in terms of income in both 2014 and 2015, which makes sense when you consider how many people travel from all over to see places like Yellowstone or Yosemite.
Overall, the national park saw “record visitation in 2015 of 307.2 million park visitors,” the National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis stated. These numbers are expected to be broken in 2016, especially because the National Parks Service is celebrating its centennial.