By NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The National Park Service reported 5.7 million people visited the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2011 and spent $93 million in nearby communities.
This spending supported more than 1,200 jobs in the local area, the NPS said.
“We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world that come here to experience the Parkway and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities,” said acting Parkway Superintendent Dale Wilkerson.
Statistical information for the Parkway is part of a spending analysis of national park visitors conducted by Michigan State University. The report shows $13 billion of direct spending by 279 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.
Visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the entire U.S. economy and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide, the report showed.
In Mississippi, the state’s seven national parks generated nearly 1,500 jobs, with visitor spending hitting $101 million in 2011.
Most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food and beverage service followed by recreation and entertainment, retail, transportation and fuel, and wholesale and manufacturing.
But with the threat of sequestration, those numbers are threatened.
For example, the Natchez Trace Park is expected to cut back visitor services as a consequence of sequestration, if it goes into effect on Friday.
The Parkway plans to close its 25 restroom facilities one day a week and will not hire part-time summer employees.