The Working Waterfront

National park tourism in Maine injects $770 million

Report shows visitor spending supports 7,000 jobs

Posted 2022-09-19
Last Modified 2022-09-19

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that visitors to national parks in Maine spent $490 million in 2021. The total of 4.1 million visits supported 7,070 jobs and had a cumulative economic output of $770 million.

“National parks are a vital part of our nation’s economy,” said Deputy Regional Director Debbie Conway, “especially for park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

The national parks in Maine that were included in the report are Acadia National Park, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and St. Croix Island International Historic Site.

“Acadia National Park’s extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities attracted a record of over 4 million visits, making it the sixth most-visited national park in the country in 2021,” said Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services, experiences, and amenities they provide to visitors.”

According to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Superintendent Mark Wimmer, “Visitation has gradually increased to approximately 40,000 annually, supporting local jobs in surrounding communities including Patten, Sherman, Medway, and Millinocket. We look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure that the Monument becomes a well-known destination in northern Maine.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists at the NPS and U.S. Geological Survey. In 2021, the National Park System received over 297 million recreation visits (up 25% from 2020). Visitors to national parks spent an estimated $20.5 billion in local gateway regions (up 41% from 2020).

The estimated contribution of this spending to the national economy was 322,600 jobs, $14.6 billion in labor income, $24.3 billion in value added, and $42.5 billion in economic output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct effects, with $7 billion in economic output directly contributed to this sector nationally. The restaurant sector saw the next greatest effects, with $4.2 billion in economic output directly contributed to this sector nationally.