While overall visitors to national parks dipped slightly in 2010, spending by park guests surged, pumping about $31 billion to local economies, according to a national study released Tuesday.
In California, spending at national parks generated more than $1.3 billion and helped support 16,776 jobs, according to the study.
Bad weather, safety concerns for parks along the Mexican border and other factors pushed visitation numbers for the national parks down nearly 2%, from 285.5 million in 2009 to 281.3 million in 2010.
But a spending analysis released by Michigan State University says direct spending by visitors generated $12 billion in 2010. The spending spurred related enterprises around the parks, which contributed a total of $31 billion to local economies, according to the study by professor Daniel J. Stynes
About half of the spending in and around national parks was for lodging and meals, 19% was for fuel and transportation, 10% for entertainment and amusements, 8% for groceries and 13% for other retail spending, according to the report.
Spending by visitors to national parks supported 43,160 jobs in restaurants and bars, 32,000 jobs in hotels and other lodging, 23,000 jobs in retail businesses, and 18,560 jobs in entertainment and amusements, the report said.
“Our National Parks and other public lands continue to be economic engines that produce and support jobs in communities across America,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.