Tourism to local national park sites creates more than $70M in economic benefits

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GLEN JEAN, WV (WVNS) – Each year, people like Ohio resident, John David, and his family venture to southern West Virginia from out of state to enjoy the great outdoors at several national park sites.

“It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous, and very peaceful,” David told 59 News while hiking the New River Gorge National River overlook. “You can get back in nature and all the sounds and sites are incredible.”

Ron Mullins was visiting from Iowa. He was looking to dig deep into rich history that sits on and around park grounds.

“We’re gonna head to Oak Hill, Hank Williams had a place down there where he died,” Mullens added. “We’re gonna do a little site seeing around West Virginia!”

A new National Park Service report shows in 2019, 1.3 million visitors, just like David and Mullins, contributed more than $70 million to the local economies surrounding three national park sites that span across Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers Counties. Those include the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area.

Eve West, the Chief of Interpretation for the New River Gorge National River, said people spent money on things like hotels and food.

“Roughly 25 percent of that was spent on lodging, 20 percent on restaurants, and then 15 percent on groceries, restaurants, gasoline, typical things people spend on when they’re on vacation,” West explained.

As visitors relished in staple mountain state activities, that spending supported 846 jobs in tourism related industries, including rafting and rock climbing.

To learn more about national parks sites in West Virginia and how the National Park Service works with West Virginia communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/WestVirginia

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