Skift Take

Turning $1 into $10 is a pretty good investment, event if there's overlap in spending from other sectors, too.

More than 5 million visitors to national parks in Hawaii spent more than $314 million and supported 3,723 jobs in the state in 2012, the National Park Service said in a new report.

Released Monday, the report showed that national park tourism returned $10 for every $1 invested in the park service.

“Hawaii’s national parks, such as Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes, attract visitors from all over the world to our islands,” said U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. “This new report reaffirms the important role these special sites play in supporting our local economy and creating jobs for our residents.”

The findings point to the parks as economic engines, and to the business value of being in the vicinity of a national park, and show that what the national parks give, federal actions such as the October government shutdown can take away.

A companion report released by the National Park Service said the Oct. 1-16 government shutdown had “significant effects” on spending in “gateway” communities within 60 miles of a park.

During the shutdown, caused by a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service closed all 401 national park units. All park grounds, visitor centers, in-park hotels, campgrounds and park roads were closed starting Oct. 1.

The USS Arizona Memorial, Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes saw a combined average of 338,340 visits for October between 2010 and 2012, with accompanying spending of $21.3 million.

As a result of the shutdown, the three parks recorded 186,965 fewer people in October 2013 and an $11.4 million reduction in spending, the National Park Service said.

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the Arizona Memorial, had 141,695 visitors on average for the month of October before the government shutdown and $7.7 million in visitor spending, and 80,067 fewer visitors and $4.4 million less in spending during the shutdown.

The Arizona Memorial itself doesn’t charge for admission, but its bookstore and vendors, the adjacent Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and transportation and tour companies all took a hit.

According to the report, visitors to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument spent $94.2 million in the local community in 2012.

Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Arizona and New York were among states that decided on spending their own money to reopen some of their parks early. Hawaii decided against such spending.

Emotions ran high at the Arizona Memorial when it reopened Oct. 18, a day later than many other parks. Officials at the memorial said they needed a day to prepare for the rush of visitors.

“If we had made a list from top to bottom of the things that we wanted to see, that was No. 1,” visitor Mary Byrd said at the time of her trip to the memorial Oct. 18.

Overall, the National Park Service report showed $14.7 billion in direct spending in 2012 by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park, supporting 243,000 jobs nationally.

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Tags: hawaii, national parks, tourism

Photo credit: A hiking trail at Haleakala National Park. eleephotograpy / Flickr

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