DENVER — A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the 1,714,675 visitors to national parks in New Mexico in 2015 spent $97.5 million in the state.
That spending supported 1,528 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $118.8 million. It also represents a 9.8 percent increase in spending and a 7 percent rise in visitation over 2014.
“From Chaco Culture National Historical Park to White Sands National Monument, the national parks of New Mexico draw more than 1.7 million visitors a year from home and abroad,” said Sue Masica, director of the NPS Intermountain Region, which includes New Mexico and seven other states. “Whether they are crossing America on a family vacation, visiting on a school trip or just out for the afternoon, our park visitors come for a great experience — and they spend a little money along the way. This annual report confirms again that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 America invests in the National Park Service. As we celebrate the NPS centennial this year, that financial reality makes national parks tourism an important factor in New Mexico’s economy, too. It’s a result we all can support.”
New Mexico’s 14 national parks include: Carlsbad Caverns National Park; Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Capulin Volcano, El Malpais, El Morro, Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Petroglyph, Salinas Pueblo Missions and White Sands national monuments, Chaco Culture and Pecos national historical parks and, newly designated as an NPS site, Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and NPS economist Lynne Koontz. Nationally, the report shows that a record 307.2 million park visitors directly spent $16.9 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.
According to the 2015 analysis, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent). Other major categories include food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).
To read or download the report, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/. The page includes a clickable, interactive tool that allows instant access to handy report data and graphics for every state and NPS park site.
To learn more about the national parks of New Mexico and how the National Park Service works with communities in the state to help preserve local history, conserve the environment and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/newmexico.