More people visited Redwood National Park and spent money in local communities last year than in 2017, according to a recent National Park Service report.

The report shows that 482,535 visitors wandered the national park's old-growth redwoods in 2018 and spent $31,070,000 in nearby communities, according to a Redwood National and State Parks press release. That spending supported 423 jobs in the area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of nearly $36.8 million, according to the press release.

However the report doesn't include numbers for Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith and Prairie Creek redwoods state parks. According to a conservative calculation from Redwood National and State Parks managers, combined visitation for the four parks combined is about 1.5 million per year. This may mean the visitation and spending for the entire RNSP complex are significantly greater than what the National Park Service reported, according to the press release.

"Redwood National and State Parks welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world," said Superintendent Steve Mietz in a written statement. "We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides."

National park tourism is a significant driver for the national economy, returning $10 for every dollar invested in the National Park Service, Mietz said.

Last year, according to the 2017 National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report, 445,000 visitors spent $27.8 million in the area surrounding Redwood National and State Parks. These visitors created 433 jobs, which generated $11 million in labor income locally.

Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione, of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Lynne Koontz, of the National Park Service, conducted the 2018 peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis, according to the RNSP press release.

The report shows 318 million park visitors spent $20.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This supported 329,000 jobs nationwide, 268,000 in gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit of $40.1 billion to the U.S. economy.

In their analysis, Thomas, Cornachione and Koontz say that lodging expenses account for the largest category of visitor spending with travelers spending $6.8 billion nationwide in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area with travelers spending $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Spending on lodging supported 58,000 jobs, while food spending supported 61,000 in restaurants, according to the press release. Visitor spending supported 28,000 jobs in the recreation industries and more than 20,000 retail jobs.

The report authors also include an interactive tool enabling people to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects for national, state and local economies. Folks can also view year-by-year trend data.

For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

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