ALAM0SA– An estimated 603,000 visitors to the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve in 2021 had a $52.4 million impact on the local economy, according to a study just released by the National Park Service (NPS).
According to NPS, $41.3 million was spent in local gateway regions while visiting GSDNP, supporting 536 jobs with $17 million in labor income and $29.1 million in added value revenue. Total economic impact of GSDNP in 2021 topped 2020 by nearly $12 million and was the largest in the past 10 years.
By comparison, 2020 estimates of impact were $29.5 million, considerably down from $33.1 million in 2019 and pre-pandemic. The next highest year in the past decade was 2017 at $29.6 million.
Hotels and restaurant spending had the greatest impact in recent years, according to NPS, with gas, groceries and retail following. Spending in recreation industries wasn’t far behind.
Colorado ranked 13th nationally in 2021 for economic impact from national parks with California leading the pack.
The report indicated that 7,819,153 visitors to national parks in Colorado spent $560 million in the state in 2021. That spending resulted in 7,571 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $864.9 million.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists at the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. The report shows $20.5 billion of direct spending by more than 297 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 322,600 jobs nationally; 269,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $42.5 billion.
As for the economics of visitor spending, the lodging sector had the highest direct effects, with $7 billion in economic output nationally. The restaurant sector had the second greatest effect, with $4.2 billion in economic output nationally.