Peer analysis reveals 1.5M visitors spent millions at Buffalo National River in 2020
With more people turning to the outdoors in the midst of a pandemic, a peer analysis showed they were spending money while visiting the Buffalo National River.
The National Park Service released a recent report that showed 1.5 million visitors spent $66.3 million in communities near the park and that spending helped support 960 jobs in the area in 2020. That made a culminative benefit to the local economy equaling $76.1 million.
Buffalo National River brings visitors from all over the country, according to officials.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, even more folks came out to enjoy the river and the outdoors. It is great to see our local communities benefit from the positive economic impacts from park visitors,” said Superintendent Mark Foust via news release. “We are working hard with Buffalo River Watershed partners to conserve the National River and provide for its enjoyment for future generations of visitors, especially at a time when park visitation is increasing.”
The park service, along with the U.S. Geological Survey, looked across the country and found $14.5 billion directly spent by more than 237 million park visitors in areas within 60 miles of a national park. The spending supported 234,000 jobs nationally with 194,400 of those jobs found in these gateway communities.
"The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $28.6 billion," according to NPS.
The lodging sector saw the highest direct effects of the national spending at $5 billion. Restaurants came second at $3 billion.
The spending on lodging supported more than 43,100 jobs and more than 45,900 jobs in restaurants across the country, per NPS. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 18,100 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 14,300 jobs.
A complete look at visitor spending, jobs, labor income and more may be found on the NPS.gov or by visiting https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.
Sara Karnes is an Outdoors Reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Follow along with her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @Sara_Karnes. Got a story to tell? Email her at email@example.com.