Monumental spending: Analysis totals local economic effects

David Bernhardt

Visitors to the Colorado National Monument spent an estimated $25.2 million in Grand Junction and other nearby communities in 2019, in turn contributing nearly $31 million to the area economy, according to the latest results of an annual analysis conducted by the National Park Service.

The economic effects of visits to national parks, monuments and other National Park Service sites in 2019 was estimated at $772 million in Colorado and $41.7 billion nationwide.

“These treasured places provide respite and recreation for the American people in addition to vital economic support to gateway communities across the country,” said David Bernhardt, secretary of the Department of Interior, which oversees the National Park Service.

The national park visitor spending effects report takes into account the number of visitors to National Park Service sites and estimated amount of money they spent in communities within 60 miles. The report also calculates the number of jobs visitor spending supported and the indirect and induced effects of visitor spending that add to economic contributions.

The Colorado National Monument attracted 397,000 visitors in 2019 who spent an estimated total of $25.2 million in gateway communities. That spending in turn supported 352 jobs, $9.7 million in labor income, $17.1 million in value-added, and a total of $30.7 million in economic output.

Annual visitor spending near the Colorado National Monument was the highest since 2016, but still below the $36.7 million that was spent during 2015.

For 2019, lodging accounted for more than a third of visitor spending at $8.5 million. Visitors spend another $4.9 million at restaurants, $3.7 million for gasoline and $1.8 million for groceries. Retail spending totaled $2.5 million.

Visitor spending supported 88 jobs in the lodging industry, a number matched by employment-related to secondary effects. Spending also supported 77 jobs in restaurants and 33 jobs in retail.

Economic output from visitor spending was greatest at $11.2 million for secondary effects, followed by $8.5 million for the lodging sector and $4.9 million for restaurants.

In Colorado, a total of 7.8 million visits to National Park Service sites were reported in 2019 and accounted for $515 million in spending. That spending supported 7,340 jobs, $268 million in labor income, $464 million in value-added, and a total economic output of $772 million.

Annual visitor spending in Colorado has increased more than 48 percent since 2012.

Rocky Mountain National Park alone accounted for 4.7 million visitors and
$314 million in spending in 2019.

Nationwide, more than 327 million visitors spent a total of $21 billion in communities near National Park Service sites. That spending supported 340,500 jobs and resulted in a total economic output of $41.7 billion.

Lodging expenses accounted for the biggest share of spending at $7.1 billion, while economic output was greatest in the restaurant sector at $4.2 billion.

For more information about the National Park Service report on visitor spending in 2019, visit www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.