Image Credit: NPS
National parks are a vital part of our nation’s economy and help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry. According to a new National Park Service report, 2021 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, approximately 6.7 million visitors spent $247 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands in Maryland last year. These expenditures supported a total of 2,940 jobs, $130 million in labor income, $215 million in value added, and $344 million in economic output in the Maryland economy. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) helps lead the economic impact among NPS sites in Maryland, second only to Assateague Island National Seashore in total visitor spending.
In 2021, the C&O Canal NHP’s 5,005,217 park visitors spent an estimated $104 million in local gateway regions while visiting the park. These expenditures supported a total of 1,360 jobs, $59.8 million in labor income, $98.6 million in value added, and $161 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding the park. The top five sectors affected by visitor spending were lodging at $39.5 million, restaurants at $24.3 million, gas at $13.9 million, retail at $10.7 million, and recreation industries at $8.4 million. This marks the first time visitor spending exceeded $100 million for visitors to the C&O Canal. In 2019, the pre-COVID visitor spending figure was $98.4 million.
The annual peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service. It includes information by parks and by states on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.