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Tourism at national parks is important to economy in Texas

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park
Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park
Larry Burmeier

Tourism at the 13 national parks in Texas add significant dollars to the state's economy. The National Park Service (NPS) reports that 3,939,160 people visited Texas national parks in 2012. Those visitors spent $188.1 million and supported 2,592 jobs in the state.

“From Big Bend to Padre Island National Seashore, the national parks of Texas attract millions of visitors a year from across the country and around the world,” said Sue Masica, director of the NPS’s Intermountain Region, which includes Texas and seven other states.

The 13 national parks of Texas include: Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks; Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument; Chamizal National Memorial; Fort Davis and Palo Alto Battlefield national historic sites; Lyndon B. Johnson and San Antonio Missions national historical sites; Padre Island National Seashore; Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River; Big Thicket National Preserve, and Amistad and Lake Meredith national recreation areas.

“Whether park visitors are out for an afternoon, on a school field trip or taking a long family vacation, they come for a great experience -- and they end up spending a little money along the way, too. This 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 the Texas economy as well. It’s a result we all can support,” Masica says.

On a national level the report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally -- with 201,000 of those jobs in these park “gateway” communities -- and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

The National Park Service works with communities in the Texas to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation.

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