According to a recently-released National Park Service study, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only the nation’s most visited national park, it also tops the 397 national park units in visitor spending. The study estimates that in 2010 the Park’s 9 million visitors spent over $818 million in the gateway communities surrounding the Park.
The study also estimates that 11,367 local jobs were supported by Park visitor spending.
That’s not surprising. Other than books, maps and maybe a T-shirt, there’s nothing you can buy in the park. You can’t get a cup of coffee or a bed. By the time, the Smokies became a park, the gateway communities, especially Gatlingburg, were tourist towns. So it was decided that tourist accommodations were going to stay outside the park.
All those folks who may see the National Parks as a money drain may want to reconsider and see them instead as money and job generators.
The entire study can be found at: