Visitors to Joshua Tree National Park spent more than $137 million in neighboring communities last year, supporting the local economy and fostering job creation, according to a new National Park Service report released Friday.

The report concluded that spending by nearly three million park guests in surrounding cities supported 1,789 jobs and had a cumulative benefit of $182,717,500 to the local economy, park officials said.

The analysis conducted by U.S. Geological Survey Economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and NPS Economist Lynne Koontz showed that park visitor spending was mostly on lodging and camping, and a significant portion was spent on food and beverages. Those categories comprised more than 50 percent of the spending, with the remainder on gas, souvenirs, admissions and fees, and local transportation.

“Joshua Tree welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” Superintendent David Smith said. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experience it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers.”

The report concluded that nationwide, park visitation resulted in $18.2 billion in direct spending in communities within a 60 mile radius of a national park, supporting 306,000 jobs nationally, with a cumulative benefit of $35.8 billion to the U.S. economy. As with Joshua Tree’s visitors, the lodging and food business sectors received the largest benefits, according to the report.

“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,” Smith said. ” We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The report is available at www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

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