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Arkansas National Parks Create $138.9M in Economic Benefit in 2012, Down From 2011

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A new report released by the National Park Service shows more than 2.7 million people spent a total of $138.9 million and supported 2,014 jobs while visiting Arkansas’ national parks in 2012.

But in-state totals are down from 2011.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists, shows the more than 2 million national park visitors contributed $395 million to labor income, $651.2 million to the gross domestic product and $162.6 million to industry production.

More: Download the 2012 study here (PDF).

Both the Buffalo National River and Hot Springs National Park had more than 1 million visitors. The Buffalo National River saw more than $43.78 million in visitor spending, while Hot Springs National Park produced more than $77.01 million in visitor spending.

Visitor spending is defined in the report as money spent on lodging, camp fees, restaurants, groceries, gas, local transportation, admission and souvenirs.

The two parks sustain the largest workforces — the Buffalo National River has 610 jobs and the Hot Springs National Park has 1,106 jobs — of Arkansas’ seven national parks. The Pea Ridge National Military Park, which sustained the third highest visitor spending total in 2012 with more than $7.09 million, is the only other Arkansas national park that employed more than 100 in 2012, with 108 jobs.

Overall, numbers in Arkansas are down from 2011, according to a study released by the NPS in February 2013. The totals show more than 2.87 million visited national parks in Arkansas, and spent more than $154.6 million and supported 2,255 jobs in 2011.

More: Download the 2011 study here (PDF).

Again, the Buffalo National River and Hot Springs National Park saw more than 1 million visitors in 2011. But more people visited both parks than in 2012. Buffalo National Park saw less spending in 2011, coming in at more than $38.23 million, while Hot Springs National Park enjoyed a substantial increase with more than $100 million in visitor spending. 

Totals supported 142 fewer jobs at Buffalo National Park in 2011, at 468 total, while Hot Springs National Park supported 445 more jobs in 2011, at 1,551 total.

Overall, the 2012 study showed 283 million visited national parks in the U.S., spending $14.7 billion while supporting 243,000 jobs. Spending and jobs were down in 2012 from 2011, although visits rose more than 4 million in 2012.

The 2011 study shows 278.9 million visited parks, spending $12.9 billion and supporting 251,600 jobs.

Overall totals from each park are as follows:

Visits     Visitor Spending    Jobs  
  2012 2011   2012 2011   2012 2011
Arkansas Post National Memorial 39,703 37,127   $2.35M $1.37M   31 20
Buffalo National River 1.0M+ 1.1M+   $43.78M $38.23M   610 468
Fort Smith National Historic Site 87,386 86,122   $4.70M $4.55M   70 69
Hot Springs National Park 1.3M+ 1.3M+   $77.01M $100.38M   1,106 1,551
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site  63,938 66,106   $3.44M $3.5M   52 52
Pea Ridge National Military Park 131,907 114,234   $7.09M $6.04M   108 88
President Clinton Birth Home 8,392 9,749   $480,600 $512,000   7 7
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