National park visitors spent $870 million in TN in 2021

MURFEESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – National Parks injected hundreds of millions of dollars into Tennessee’s economy in 2021. A new report showed that 11 million park visitors spent an estimated $870 million at local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands in Tennessee.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park brought in $1.3 billion last year in Tennessee and North Carolina, according to the National Park Service. These were $29.3 million from Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, $16.9 million from Fort Donelson-Tennessee National Battlefield, and $23.8 million from dollars from the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro.

“We’ve had a burst of visitation, even over the past two years, sort of after COVID 19,” national park spokeswoman Dana Soehn said. “I think people were just looking for safe places to recreate and being outdoors provided this opportunity where you didn’t have to think about the distance and the droplets and all those things that have consumed our lives over the last two years. And it gave this feeling of freedom, a place where people can come and enjoy this space alone with their families.

Soehn said that in 2021 GSMNP is busier than ever. They have had over 14 million visits, which represents a 57% increase in visits over the past decade. National park spending for Tennessee visitors last year included $271 million for lodging, $166 million for restaurants and $121 million for gasoline. But the increase in visitor numbers has come with some concerns.

“We are very concerned about the safety of visitors. We are very concerned about congestion and traffic flow, as well as the impact on resources in the most congested areas,” Soehn said. “The Smokies has about 850 miles of trails, 380 miles of scenic drives, lots of places to explore. But we have a lot of people focusing on about seven iconic Smokies locations. »

According to the report, national park visitor spending supported a total of 11,800 jobs, $454 million in labor income, $747 million in value added and $1.3 billion in economic output in the economy. of Tennessee.


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