Ashton Marra Published

National Park Visitors Spent $58M in Southern W.Va. in 2016

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.

The state’s three national parks in southern West Virginia saw more than one million visitors last year, resulting in a bump to the economies of the surrounding cities and towns. 

The National Park Service released the visitor totals Monday that show 1.3 million tourists from around the world stopped at the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area in 2016.

Visitors spent more than $58 million in the communities around the parks, supporting nearly 900 local jobs.

Park visitors spend the most on lodging followed by food, gas, and admissions.

The three parks are located in four counties: Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers.

Gov. Jim Justice has pushed for increased investment in tourism and marketing for the state as a whole since taking office in January. Justice has said putting more government dollars toward attracting people to state and national parks in West Virginia will help diversify the state’s economy.

Nationally, NPS says they return $10 for every $1 invested in the parks they oversee, with a cumulative benefit of nearly $35 billion to the U.S. economy last year.

The report was generated by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service.