$371 Million Spent by Texas National Parks Visitors

The Rio Grande at the Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
The Rio Grande at the Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. | Image by Robert Hensley

Texas’ National Parks are a vital part of the state’s economy and help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry. The total amount directly spent by local and non-local visitors at National Parks across Texas soared in 2021, accounting for $371 million.

Texas has 14 National Park Service sites. This includes two national parks — Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Park — and 12 national parklands, which include national monuments, historic trails, recreation areas, national preserves, and more.

Across all of Texas’ National Parks Service sites, approximately 6 million individuals visited the properties throughout 2021, per new data released by the National Park Service.

These properties generated nearly $580 million in economic activity last year, the highest the figure has been since officials began tracking the data in 2012. The National Park Service measures economic output as the total estimated value of the production of goods and services from visitor spending near parklands.

San Antonio Missions, a national historical park and the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Texas, was visited by 1.3 million tourists and generated more than $104 million in visitor spending.

The Department of the Interior announced that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2021 resulted in a $42.5 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 322,600 mostly-local jobs.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and community in America, as well as to the local economies of gateway communities that support our national parks,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The Interior Department is committed to making investments in our lands and waters that will support tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment, and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation.”

Nationally, approximately 297 million visitors spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, according to the 2021 National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report. Of the 322,600 jobs supported by visitor spending, 268,900 were in park gateway communities.

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