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Va. State Parks Stimulated Over $224 Million in Visitor Spending in 2016

Andy Thompson

January 31, 2017 11:29am

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia State Parks helped stimulate more than $224 million in visitor spending in 2016. The figure comes from a new economic impact report 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.

First Landing State Park. April 26, 1607, the first permanent English settlers landed here. 

“In 2016, Virginia State Parks hosted over 10 million visitors, more than a million of whom spent the night in our world-class cabins and campgrounds. These important economic drivers support more than 3,500 private and public jobs across Virginia and improve quality of life in our Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Last year, out-of-state visitors spent around $98 million as the result of our state park system – an incredible return on only $19.8 million in general fund appropriations.”

In addition to a substantial impact on the value of nearby real estate, the report found that the economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks yielded approximately $19.6 million in tax revenue for the Commonwealth last year.

“For every $1 we receive from the General Assembly, Virginia State Parks generate 99 cents in tax revenue,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Sales taxes, business taxes and state income taxes all help to make state parks nearly budget neutral.”

“This report gives us a new baseline from which we’ll measure all state parks economic activity in the future,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman. “Previously, we used decades-old calculations and multipliers to arrive at the numbers. We are continuously collecting customized spending information from thousands of visitors on line and in writing. We’re also using a special computer program, called IMPLAN, for our calculations. With this new process in place, we expect to have more precise figures that we’ll continue to refine every year.”

For the full Virginia State Parks Economic Impact Report 2016, click here.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?