Smokies impact on area economy: $818M, study says

Feb. 26, 2013 @ 05:23 PM

A new National Park Service report for 2011 shows that the 9 million visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park spent $818 million in communities surrounding the park.

This spending supported 11,732 jobs in the local area.

“Visitors from across the U.S. come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to experience the unique natural and historic attractions, which has a tremendous economic impact on eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and especially the park’s gateway communities,” said Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.

The information on the Smokies is part of a spending analysis of national park visitors across the country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service.

For 2011, that report shows $13 billion of direct spending by 279 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. That visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the entire U.S. economy and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide.

Most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent) and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent.)

To download the report visit and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation, 2011.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.