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Report: National park visitors in S.C. spent $83 million last year

Hospitality and Tourism
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About 1.5 million people visited South Carolina’s six national parks last year, and they spent $82.9 million in the state, according to a report from the National Park Service.

The spending supported nearly 1,300 jobs, while the economic output contributed to the state totaled $105.9 million, the report (.pdf) said.

Fort Sumter National Monument, located in the Charleston Harbor, brought in 840,712 visitors in 2015. Those visitors spent about $48 million and supported 734 jobs, the most of any of the national parks in the state. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

On its own, Fort Sumter National Monument, located in the Charleston Harbor and only accessible by boat, brought in more than half of the six parks’ total visitors, visitor spending, jobs and economic output.

“The national parks of South Carolina attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” Stan Austin, Southeast regional director for the National Park Service, said in the report. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy — returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service — and a big factor in our state’s economy as well, a result we can all support.”

U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz conducted the visitor spending analysis.

The National Park Service covers more than 84 million acres and includes 410 sites across the country. Nationally, the report found that 307.2 million park visitors spent $16.9 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park. The spending supported 295,000 jobs and $32 billion of economic output was added to the U.S. economy, the report said.

About 31% of the spending was for lodging, while food and beverage accounted for 20%, gas and oil made up nearly 12%, admissions and fees added about 10% and souvenirs and other expenses were just shy of 10%, the report said.

National Park Service visitor data for 2015

National park

Total visits

Total non-local visits

Total jobs supported

Visitor spending

Total economic output

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site






Congaree National Park






Cowpens National Battlefield






Fort Sumter National Monument






Kings Mountain National Military Park






Ninety Six National Historic Site






Source: National Park Service

Reach staff writer Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyBHeff on Twitter.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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