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National Park visits in South Carolina support state economy

Hospitality and Tourism
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Visitor spending in and around national parks in South Carolina has increased over the last couple of years, contributing in a variety of ways to the state economy.

In 2016, 1.7 million visitors spent an estimated $93.5 million in towns and businesses while visiting National Park Service lands in South Carolina, according to the 2016 NPS Visitor Spending Effects Report. Spending in 2016 is up from the $82.9 million in 2015. The businesses seeing the largest portions of the visitor spending were hotels, at $30.6 million, and restaurants, at $20.3 million.

(Photo/National Park Service)

Visitor spending in 2016 supported 1,400 jobs, $40 million in labor income, $69.5 million in contribution to the state’s GDP and $119.6 million in economic output in the South Carolina economy, according to the report. Value added measures the contribution of NPS visitor spending to the GDP, according to the report.

Visitor spending at Cowpens National Battlefield totaled $13.7 million in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015 and $12.4 million in 2014. The economic output to the surrounding economies last year was $18.7 million, an increase from the $17.7 million in 2015 and $16.8 million in 2014.

At Kings Mountain National Military Park in Cherokee County, visitors spent $10.5 million in 2016, up from $10.1 million in 2015 and $9.6 million in 2014. Economic impact to surrounding areas totaled $14.1 million in 2016, up from $13.4 million in 2015 and $12.8 million in 2014.

There are 10 national parks, monuments or heritage corridors in South Carolina. The report shows spending and economic contribution of six of those; the others cover multiple states.

  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in Mount Pleasant
  • Congaree National Park in Hopkins
  • Cowpens National Battlefield in Cowpens
  • Fort Sumter National Monument in the Charleston Harbor
  • Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which extends from Wilmington, N.C. to Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Kings Mountain National Military Park in Blacksburg
  • Ninety Six National Historic Site in Greenwood County
  • Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which covers 330 miles through Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina
  • Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort County
  • S.C. National Heritage Corridor, which stretches across 17 counties.

Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston Harbor saw the largest amount of visitor spending in South Carolina in 2016 at $51.9 million, up from $48.1 million in 2015. The economic output to the gateway economies totaled $65.5 million in 2016, up from $60.5 million in 2015, according to the report.

In addition:

Congaree National Park

2016
$7.3 million in visitor spending
$8.5 million in economic output

2015
$4.4 million in visitor spending
$5.1 million in economic output

2014
$5.9 million in visitor spending
$6.9 million in economic output

Ninety Six Historical Site

2016
$6.9 million in visitor spending
$8.8 million in economic output

2015
$4.6 million in visitor spending
$5.9 million in economic output

2014
$3.7 million in visitor spending
$4.7 million in economic output

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

2016
$3.1 million in visitor spending
$3.9 million in economic output

2015
$2.7 million in visitor spending
$3.4 million in economic output

2014
$3 million in visitor spending
$3.7 million in economic output

Nationally, in 2016, 331 million park visitors spent an estimated $18.4 billion in local economies while visiting NPS lands across the country. These expenditures supported a total of 318,100 jobs and $12 billion in labor income.

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