BISBEE — Good news came from a 2018 National Park Service (NPS) report which revealed the cumulative economic benefit related to visitation at Chiricahua National Memorial, Coronado National Monument Parks and the Fort Bowie Historic Park.
According to the report, 172,195 people visited the three parks last year and brought in over $10.2 million to the county. Park tourism also accounted for 152 jobs and had a cumulative economic benefit of $12.2 million to Cochise County.
For instance, 103,000 park visitors spent an estimated $6.1 million in local gateway regions while visiting Coronado National Memorial, which includes the Huachuca Mountains. These expenditures supported 92 jobs, $2.4 million in labor income, $4.3 million in value added and $7.7 million in local economies.
At the Chiricahua National Monument, over 60,000 park visitors spent an estimated $3.6 million while visiting the popular mountains range. These expenditures supported a total of 51 jobs and provided $1.1 million in labor income, $2 million in value added and $3.8 million in economic output.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site in the northeastern corner of the county had 8,400 park visitors who spent nearly half a million dollars in local region. These expenditures supported a total of 9 jobs, with nearly $200,000 in labor income, $346,000 in value added and $621,000 in economic output in local economies.
It was just the sort of good news the county Board of Supervisors like to hear.
“Cochise County communities depend on the tourists visiting the nationally recognized parks,” said Supervisor Ann English. “Many visit one and then realize the beauty of the area and visit others. We have a unique and varied number of parks and our tourism numbers are directly linked to park visits.
“Bring on the park visitors. They are our best advertising to their friends and relatives,” she added.
Supervisor Tom Borer noted, “This is just another example of what makes Cochise County a great place to live and visit. We have many natural resources that draw tourists to this area and communities. The National Parks along with our hiking, biking and birding opportunities to name a few bring tourists from all over the United States and the world. The economic benefits are fantastic and we should welcome all with open arms.”
Acting NPS Superintendent Matt Stoffolano recognized the importance of the parks in the county and country and stated, “The National Park sites in Cochise County welcome visitors from across the country and around the world. We are delighted to share the stories of these places and the many recreational and educational experiences they provide.”
And the funds generated from those educational experiences are put to good use.
“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,” Stoffolano “We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
Arizona ranks No. 2 for economic output which the report says totaled $2.1 billion for the state.
Arizona ranks No. 3 for park tourism, which brings a $1.3 billion boost, and No. 3 in jobs, which employ nearly 20,000 people, according to the report.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.
“The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending nationwide by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion,” said Libby Schaff, NPS public information officer.
Nationally, lodging expenses accounted for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018, according to the report. Food expenses are the second largest spending area, with visitors spending $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.
Schaff also pointed out the report authors produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS website, nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.