Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that Virginia State Parks helped stimulate more than $226 million in visitor spending in 2017, including $104 million by out-of-state visitors.
“With more than ten million visitors in 2017, Virginia State Parks helped support approximately 3,500 jobs in communities across Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “From seasonal staff and park rangers, to restaurants, campgrounds, outfitters, convenience stores, specialty shops and other local businesses, state parks remain an important economic engine that influences every aspect of the Commonwealth. I am pleased visitors are recognizing all the natural beauty Virginia has to offer, and I look forward to welcoming more of them to our great Commonwealth.”
The data comes from economic impact research compiled by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business as part of an ongoing partnership with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that manages Virginia State Parks.
“These results show once again that protecting Virginia’s natural landscapes and growing Virginia’s economy go hand in hand,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler. “Governor Northam and I are committed to promoting the Commonwealth as a top outdoor recreation destination, and our state parks are a cornerstone of that strategy.”
According to the report, in 2017, for every $1 of general tax revenue provided, $13.08 on average was generated from Virginia State Parks. In the same year, state parks hosted more than a million overnight visitors in a cabin or campground. These economic findings are based on state park economic research that is continually refined.
“State parks are a revenue generator for Virginia,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman. “According to the research, the economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks yielded approximately $21.3 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth last year. That was an increase from $18.3 million in 2016. Virginia State Parks generate $1.17 in tax revenue for every $1 we receive in general fund appropriations. This is a significant return on the $18.3 million investment we received from the General Assembly.”
“Visitors to state parks enjoy our rivers, streams, trails and natural beauty,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Virginia State Parks preserve and protect more than 71,000 acres of land and ensure superior recreational experiences for visitors. Our conservation efforts, coupled with the countless recreational opportunities, make Virginia State Parks a premier vacation destination.”
“This past year, for example, park staff recorded nearly 800 vehicle observation hours as well as roughly 700 visitor interviews to refine various model input estimates,” said Dr. Vince Magnini in Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. “The year before, in 2016, nearly 4,000 visitors completed spending profile surveys. In addition, each year a commercially available software package called IMPLAN contains the most recent economic information about the Commonwealth regarding such factors such as tax rates. It is the culmination of these efforts that aid in the execution of a reliable annual economic study that communicates the many contributions of Virginia’s State Parks to the economic well-being of the Commonwealth.”
-Submitted by Charlotte Gomer, Assistant Communications Director