Sand Dunes tourism creates $28 million

MOSCA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 388,807 visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2016 spent $23,701,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 348 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $28 million.

“We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides”, said Acting Superintendent Scott Stonum. “NPS employees care for the parks and interpret the stories of these iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, but it takes our nearby communities to fully provide our visitors with food, lodging and other services that complete a national park experience.”

In 2016, Great Sand Dunes saw a 30 percent increase in visitation due to increase media attention for the National Park Service Centennial celebrations, Medano creek flow, lower gas prices, and the increase in population within the state. The park supported a variety of programs and special events for the Centennial throughout the summer and fall months to accommodate the increase in visitors, which in turn contributed to more visitors enjoying the local community.

The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5 percent).

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis and interactive tool was created by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies, and also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

To learn more about national parks in Colorado and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to For more information about economic benefits to Great Sand Dunes, contact Kathy Faz at [email protected] or 719-378-6341.



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