The National Park Service has released its annual report on tourism dollars spent at communities in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) area, including Shannon County, and the economic impact made by more than a million visitors last year on those communities.
The figures, based on data collected during 2022, show there were about 1.3 million visitors to ONSR last year, who spent roughly $63.8 million in communities near the park. Those dollars in turn supported 873 jobs and contributed a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $73.3 million, the report shows.
The cumulative benefit takes into account workers in tourism-related jobs, including restaurant and lodging employees, who in turn spend their earnings on housing, goods and services provided locally. For example, in a chart broken down by sector type, 222 restaurant jobs were made possible by tourism, and 197 lodging-related jobs were made possible, with another 190 jobs maintained as a secondary effect of local spending by tourism related employees.
Parks Service officials calculated Riverways tourism provided $21.9 million in labor income to the area last year.
“Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 300 million visitors every year,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “The impact of tourism to national parks is undeniable: bringing jobs and revenue to communities in every state in the country and making national parks an essential driver to the national economy.”
“People come to Ozark National Scenic Riverways to enjoy the beautiful Jacks Fork and Current rivers in a variety of ways,” said Superintendent Jason Lott. “We recognize that this tourism is a critical driver to the local economy, bringing 873 jobs and $73,310,000 revenue to communities within 60 miles of the park.”
Those communities include Eminence, Winona, and Birch Tree in Shannon County, Van Buren in Carter County, and Mtn. View, Willow Springs and West Plains in Howell County.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists at the National Park Service, officials said. Nationally, it shows $23.9 billion of direct spending by nearly 312 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park, also called gateway communities.
The spending supported 378,400 jobs nationally, with 314,600 of those jobs in gateway communities and a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $50.3 billion last year.
Parks Service analysts reported, on a national level, the lodging sector had the highest direct effects with $9 billion in economic output nationally, and the restaurants sector had the second highest at $4.6 billion.
Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the Parks Service Social Science Program webpage, www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.
To learn more about ONSR and other national parks in Missouri, go to www.nps.gov/missouri.