published Friday, March 7th, 2014

Visitors to Tennessee's national parks spend millions

Visitors look at a waterfall in Little River Canyon in Cherokee County, Ala., from an overlook in the national preserve.
Visitors look at a waterfall in Little River Canyon in Cherokee County, Ala., from an overlook in the national preserve.
Photo by John Rawlston.

National Park Service officials say more than 8 million visitors to national parks in Tennessee in 2012 spent $541 million, and more than 7.3 million people who visited Georgia's national parks had an economic benefit of more than $343 million.

Alabama's national parks had nearly 718,000 visitors in 2012, and they spent $26.5 million.

In a news release, National Park Service Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin said the parks are a significant economic driver and have returned $10 for every $1 invested on a national level.

In Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park accounted for 9.6 million visitors who spent $741 million in communities near the park in 2012. The most recent figures from the National Park Service show the hundreds of millions of dollars supported nearly 8,000 jobs in the state.

National parks in Georgia include the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and others.

Park Service officials say that state's national parks have supported more than 5,200 jobs.

The national parks in Alabama are Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Russell Cave National Monument near Bridgeport, Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne, Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and parts of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Nationally, the report shows more than $15 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

The spending supported 243,000 jobs and pumped about $27 billion into the U.S. economy, according to the report.

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