Visitor spending around Yellowstone National Park last year topped nearly $500M, according to a new National Park Service report.
Last year, of course, was a huge year for Yellowstone visitation, with over four million recorded visits. In total, those visitors spent around $493 million in local communities, including West Yellowstone and Gardiner. From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
“We’re happy to see the economic benefit that comes from all those visits,” said Amy Bartlett, a park spokeswoman.
The total was the highest in the last four years. With other indirect contributions, the report estimates the total economic output to be almost $640 million.
That total was a part of $32 billion that the National Parks Service said visitors contributed to the national economy in what was a year with record visitation to parks nationwide. This year is the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, an event expected to draw even more people to the service’s attractions and dump more money into local communities.
“Hand in hand with the higher visitation comes a higher spending from the visitors,” Bartlett said.
Hotels near Yellowstone took the largest portion of visitor money. Of the $493 million spent near Yellowstone, $160 million was spent at hotels. Restaurants took in about $80 million in visitor spending.
The report also said that more than 8,300 jobs are supported by national park spending in Montana, and many of those are in towns near the borders of the state’s major attractions — Glacier and Yellowstone.
Indeed, Barbara Shesky, executive director of the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce, told the Chronicle that Yellowstone visitors are, in many ways, the lifeblood of the town. Historically, people visited Yellowstone before the town even warranted a post office.
“Visitors to Yellowstone National Park provide a sustainable economy for the local Gardiner businesses,” Shesky told the Chronicle. “Without the tourists that are visiting Yellowstone National Park coming through our community, Gardiner residents and business owners would be struggling.”