Shyla Parsons Published

National Park Tourism Boosts S. W.Va. Economy


A National Park Service report released Sunday, details the economic benefits to Southern West Virginia last year. According to the report, tourism to the region’s national parks helped spur the economy by almost $70 million.

More than 1.3 million visitors explored the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area in 2018.

Economic benefits from the tourism affected spending and jobs in the region, which includes Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers counties.

According to the National Park Service report more than $60 million was spent in these communities. Additionally, this spending helped support 847 jobs.

Lizzie Watts, superintendent of the New River Gorge National River, said for every $1 invested in the National Park Service $10 is returned through national park tourism.

“We are happy to be a part of helping to sustain so many local communities,” Watts said.

The report also cites lodging expenses as the largest portion of visitor spending, with food expenses being second.

National trends show that the majority of money created through national park tourism is spent within 60 miles of a park.

More information and interactive data can be found at the National Park Service website.