National Park Tourism in California Creates $4.2 Billion in Economic Benefit

New report shows visitor spending supports 35,700 jobs in California

SAN FRANCISCO (May 24, 2019) – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 39.9 million visitors to national parks in California spent $2.7 billion in the state in 2018. That spending resulted in 35,700 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $4.2 billion.

“The national parks of California attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Stan Austin, regional director for the Pacific West Region. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, a result we can all support.”

The national parks in California are:

  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Castle Mountains National Monument
  • Cesar E. Chavez National Monument
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Devils Postpile National Monument
  • Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site
  • Fort Point National Historic Site
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • John Muir National Historic Site
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Mojave National Preserve
  • Muir Woods National Monument
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
  • Redwood National Park
  • Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
  • Tule Lake National Monument
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
  • Yosemite National Park

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in California and how the National Park Service works with Californian communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/state/ca.

About the Pacific West Region

The National Park Service Pacific West Region spans 106 degrees around the globe and includes more than 60 national park sites within the eight states of California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, portions of Arizona and Montana and the territories of Guam, American Samoa, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands.

About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov.

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