Spending on hotels, restaurants, gas and supplies by visitors to U.S. national parks in 2013 contributed $14.6 billion in economic benefits to communities within 60 miles of the parks nationwide. That's according to a new report from the National Park Service.
The study said vthe biggest part of visitor spending nationally was for lodging, at 30.3%.
Food and beverages accounted for 27.3%.
Gas and oil accounted for 12.1%.
Park admission and fees accounted for 10.3%.
Souvenirs and other expenses were pegged at 10%.
The service said restaurant and bar spending that depends on national parks created 50,000 jobs, while lodging created 38,000 jobs.
The study put total park visitors around the U.S. in 2013 at 273.6 million, down from 282.7 million in 2012. Total park-dependent visitor spending was put at $14.6 billion, slightly down from the year before. The survey said around the country the national parks supported 237,599 jobs.
Two of Charleston's tourist attractions led the way for national park attendance and related spending in South Carolina last year.
The National Park Service recently released its visitor spending report, which analyzed how much the national parks across the country contributed to their local economies.
Fort Sumter National Monument was attended by 815,000 visitors in 2013, more than half the total attendance at the five other national parks in the state, according to the report.
Combined spending related to attendance at all the state's national parks reached $80 million, and more than half was contributed by visitors to Fort Sumter.
The historic fort in Charleston Harbor marks the site where the American Civil War erupted in 1861. The national monument also includes the Fort Moultrie site on Sullivan's Island.
The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in Mount Pleasant had the lowest attendance rate out of all the national parks in South Carolina last year.
Taken together, the two national sites in the area contributed more than $47.5 million to the local economy, which supported 675 jobs in the area.
"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 big factor in our local economy as well," Tim Stone, superintendent of Fort Sumter, said in a written statement.
The annual economic impact of the state's national parks dipped slightly from 2012, due to the government shutdown that forced all national parks to close for a consecutive 16 days in October, according to the National Park Service report.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail
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