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Mississippi's national parks have $206M economic impact

Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island is a favorite destination of visitors to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Closing the Camille Cut has created miles more of Ship Island to explore.
Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island is a favorite destination of visitors to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Closing the Camille Cut has created miles more of Ship Island to explore. Sun Herald file

A new National Park Service report shows that 6.4 million visitors to national parks in Mississippi spent $194.2 million in the state in 2015.

That spending resulted in 2,795 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $205.7 million.

"The national parks of Mississippi attract visitors from across the country and around the world," said Stan Austin, Southeast Regional director. "Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy -- returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service -- and a big factor in our state's economy as well, a result we can all support."

The national parks in Mississippi and their economic impact are:

-- Gulf Islands National Seashore: Visitor spending of $37.3 million resulted in 555 jobs and a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $46.7 million

-- Natchez National Historical Park: Visitor spending of $11.1 million resulted in 175 jobs and a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $13.8 million

-- Natchez Trace Parkway: Visitor spending of $44 million resulted in 636 jobs and a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $48.6 million

-- Vicksburg National Military Park: Visitor spending of $29.1 million resulted in 482 jobs and a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $38.4 million

The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31 percent) followed by food and beverages (20 percent), gas and oil (12 percent), admissions and fees (10 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

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