ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Visitation to Maine’s only national park in 2011 injected more than $186 million into Maine’s economy that year and supported nearly 3,000 jobs in the Mount Desert Island region, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.
Nationwide, visitors to National Park Service properties in 2011 generated $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported a quarter of a million jobs throughout the country, the report indicated. Of that spending total, $13.1 billion was spent directly in communities within 60 miles of a national park, according to park service officials. The park service’s 398 national parks had nearly 279 million total visits in 2011, they added.
In a prepared statement released Monday, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, warned that the mandatory federal budget cuts also known as sequestration could reduce services at national parks nationwide.
“Should Congress fail to act before the March 1 deadline, the public should expect reduced hours and services not only at America’s 398 national parks but also at the 561 national wildlife refuges and over 268 public land units,” the park service statement indicated.
Sheridan Steele, superintendent of Acadia, said in a separate prepared statement released Tuesday that the peer-reviewed spending analysis shows how important a role Acadia plays in the state economy. The Acadia statement made no mention of the sequestration issue.
“Acadia attracts visitors from across the U.S. and around the world who come here to experience its unparalleled scenery and extraordinary recreational opportunities, and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities,” Steele said. “The National Park Service is proud to have been entrusted with the care of America’s most treasured places and delighted that the visitors we welcome generate significant contributions to the local, state and national economy.”
According to the report, Acadia had 2.37 million recreational visits in 2011 and generated more than 150,000 overnight stays in the surrounding area. Of the $186 million in spending by park visitors that year, $183 million was from “non-local” visitors.
Visitation in 2011 supported 2,970 local jobs and a direct-income impact of more than $72 million, according to the report. When including the value-added or indirect effect of that income, those jobs are estimated to contribute $126 million to the local economy.
Of the $186 million spent in conjunction with visits to Acadia in 2011, $117 million was spent on lodging, food and beverage services, according to Acadia officials. The next largest subcategory of visitor spending was in the recreation and entertainment sector with $31.6 million.
Acadia’s 2.37 million visits in 2011 represented a decline after three straight years of increased visits from 2008, when the park had less than 2.1 million visits, to 2010, when the park had more than 2.5 million visits. According to park service statistics posted online, visits to the park increased again in 2012, totaling 2.43 million.
Most of the park’s annual visits occur in July, August and September, during Maine’s summer tourist season, Acadia officials have said.
Each year, the National Park Service compiles a report on the economic impact of its properties through a cooperative agreement with Michigan State University, according to park service officials.