New report shows visitor spending supports more than 2,000 jobs in South Florida

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,916,800 visitors to the four national parks in South Florida collectively spent $156.3 million in 2018. That spending resulted in 2,089 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the South Florida economy of $225.4 million.

Big Cypress National Preserve added $63.9 million in visitor spending and 848 jobs to area economies. Biscayne National Park boosted the local economy with visitors spending $30.3 million on hotels, gas, restaurants, and other services resulting in 399 jobs in the local communities. Dry Tortugas National Park, in spite of its remote location, generated $3.4 million through visitor spending and 39 jobs. Everglades National Park added a total of $58.7 million in visitor spending and created 803 jobs.

“We are so fortunate in South Florida to have four National Park Service sites that attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos, who has oversight for the South Florida national parks. “We are eager to share the stories of these unique places and the recreational opportunities they provide. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a significant contributor to our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to contribute to sustaining our local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view individual park data as well as year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

To learn more about the NPS in South Florida and how we work with our local communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to or to the individual park websites:

Big Cypress National Preserve –

Biscayne National Park –

Dry Tortugas National Park – Everglades National Park –

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