Local national parks boost Utah economy

2014-07-21T16:45:00Z 2014-12-09T07:51:10Z Local national parks boost Utah economyBilly Hesterman Daily Herald Daily Herald
July 21, 2014 4:45 pm  • 

A new study has found Utah's national parks are continuing to be a boost to the state's economy. 

In a report recently released by the National Park Service, it was found that the Beehive State's 13 national parks and monuments accounted for nearly $600 million spent by park visitors within the state, and that the parks also helped in sustaining more than 9,000 jobs in Utah in 2013. 

"From Arches and Canyonlands to Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah’s national parks attract nearly 9 million visitors a year from across the country and around the world,” said Sue Masica, director of NPS’s Intermountain Region, in a statement on the study. 

"This new report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. This reality makes parks tourism an important factor in Utah’s economy as well. It’s a result we all can support.”

Even in Utah County, the study found that one national monument is contributing to the area's economy. The report stated that Timpanogos Cave National Monument had 91,269 visitors last year, which aided in sustaining 77 jobs in the area. 

Zion National Park was the most popular of the tourist spots and was also the top money contributor to the state among the popular vacation spots. 

Zion enjoyed more than 2.8 million visitors last year and was credited in the report for creating more than 1,700 jobs. Visitors are said to have spent $147,051 while traveling at the park. 

Zion was followed by Bryce Canyon National Park in the amount of visitors over the past year, with 1.3 million passing through the area. Arches National Park also enjoyed strong attendance numbers, as 1,082,866 passed through the park's gates in 2013.

Utah had a total of 8,981,447 visitors to its national parks and monuments in 2013. 

According to the report, Utah did well with attendance to its national parks when compared to surrounding states. Utah only trailed Arizona, which has the Grand Canyon, but beat out Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. 

On a national scale, Utah didn't rank as high when compared to highly traveled areas like California and Washington, D.C., which reported having 35.5 million and 34.2 million visitors, respectively. 

The national parks' impact on the state was highlighted last fall when the federal government shutdown led to a temporary closure of the parks.

After 10 days of the parks being shut down, the state of Utah paid the federal government to have the parks reopened to make certain local businesses weren't further impacted by the loss of tourists due to Congress deciding to temporarily halt funding to the parks.

Utah paid nearly $1 million to reopen its five national parks and three other National Park Service sites last October. It has been estimated by the NPS that for every dollar the state spent to reopen the parks at that time, the state received $10 back.  

Daily Herald reporter Billy Hesterman can be reached at bhesterman@heraldextra.com or (801) 344-2559 or on Twitter @billyhesterman.

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