Viisitation analysis: Economic effect monumental

Visitors to the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction helped contribute $45 million to the local economy in 2015, according to the latest results of an annual analysis conducted by the National Park Service.

The Colorado National Monument  attracted 588,006 visitors who spent an estimated total of $36 million in communities near the park. That level of spending supported 556 jobs and accounted for a cumulative economic benefit of $45 million, the report stated.

“Colorado National Monument welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Ken Mabery, superintendent of the monument. “We are delighted to share the monument’s story and
experiences. The monument serves as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back to local communities.”

The latest numbers constitute increases over 2014, when 416,862 visitors to the monument spent a combined $25 million, supported 386 jobs and accounted for a total economic benefit of $31 million.

Barb Bowman, division manager of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, called the 2015 numbers “impressive.”

The increases Bowman said, constitute “a great indication of the positive economic impact that Colorado National Monument has on our community.”

For Colorado, visitor spending totaled $450.4 million in 2015, supporting 6,900 jobs and accounting for a total economic contribution of nearly $667 million.

Nationwide, a total of 307.2 million visits to national parks, monuments, historic sites and recreation areas were reported during 2015.

Those visits resulted in a combined $16.9 billion in direct spending in communities within 60 miles, in turn supporting 295,000 jobs and accounting for a cumulative contribution of $32 billion to the United States economy.

The latest peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz and U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas.

They determined that 31.1 percent of spending went to lodging, followed by 20.2 percent for food and beverages, 11.8 percent for gasoline and oil, 10.2 percent for admissions and fees and 9.8 percent for souvenirs and other expenses.