ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Visitors to Maine’s only national park are estimated to have generated $191.5 million for the state’s economy last year, according to the federal agency that runs the park.
A new National Park Service report also indicates spending by visitors to Acadia and to the Saint Croix Island National Historic Site in Calais, which is managed by Acadia, supported an estimated 2,958 jobs in Maine in 2013. Acadia National Park had 2.26 million visitors last year, according to the report.
The 2013 estimate indicates there was a decrease of about 170,000 visitors who spent about $8.5 million less when compared to 2012. The difference is attributed to Acadia National Park and other federal facilities nationwide being shut down for 16 days during a dispute in Congress in 2013 over the federal budget. In 2012, there were 2.43 million visits to Acadia by people who spent $200 million in Maine, supporting more than 3,000 jobs, according to a previous report.
Park officials have said because of the shutdown last fall Acadia had 192,000 fewer visits, which, they claim, prevented park visitors from spending $16 million in Maine in early October, when the park was closed. Those estimates, which are more speculative than those based on actual visits, are based on averages for the same 16-day period in 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to Acadia officials.
Park service officials have acknowledged the agency’s 2013 spending estimate formula assumes the people who would have made those 192,000 visits never spent any money in Maine, even though evidence suggests many tourists who planned to go to Acadia made the trip to Maine despite the closure.
Bar Harbor hotels had fewer guests during the shutdown, but cruise ships that deliver hundreds of thousands of passengers to Maine each summer and fall still stopped in Bar Harbor and Portland while the national park was closed, and at least one state park had more campers than usual, a state park official has said.
The visitor spending decrease from 2012 to 2013 is estimated to be $8.5 million rather than the $16 million associated with the shutdown, because several months in 2013 had higher visitation totals than they did they prior year, according to Acadia officials.
The park service’s visitation and visitor spending estimates for 2013 are similar to other recent years.
The agency has estimated Acadia had a total of 2.5 million visits in 2010 that directly generated $186 million to the state’s economy — which amounts to more visits but less estimated visitor spending than in 2013. The following year, in 2011, Acadia had an estimated 2.37 million visits but generated the same amount of visitor spending ($186 million) in Maine than it did in 2010.