(NEW YORK) — Visits to National Parks brought in more than $34.9 billion to the U.S. economy last year, the Interior Department announced Wednesday, an increase of nearly $3 billion from the previous year.
According to the Interior Department release, 331 million people visited America’s 417 National Park Service sites in 2016. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the figures while at San Francisco’s Presidio at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He also visited Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Channel Islands national parks during National Park Week.
“With continued record visitation, it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure,” Zinke said. “Last week, it was great to see the team at Yosemite opening up areas with new wheelchair accessible trails. In the coming years, we will look at ways to make innovative investments in our parks to enhance visitor experiences and improve our aging infrastructure.”
The millions of visits also supported more than 300,000 jobs last year. More than 270,000 of those jobs exist in communities within 60 miles of a park.
The money brought in through the parks included lodging (31.2 percent), concessions (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent) and camping fees (2.5 percent).
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