Grand Canyon tourism pumping funds into nearby communities

In a new report from the National Park Service, tourism to the Grand Canyon has translated into $947 million-worth of spending in communities near the park in 2018. Spending by visitors helps support more than 12,500 jobs in local areas in everything from restaurants to gas stations to lodging, and more. According to the report, 318 million visitors contributed more than $20 billion of direct spending in communities within about an hour of the national park.

“Our most recent research shows that 1 in 5 visitors to Arizona visits a national or state park, which is twice the national average. National/state park visitation is the No. 2 activity among visitors to Arizona,” notes Scott Dunn from the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Also, 75 percent of overseas visitors to Arizona go to at least one national park or monument. For context, only 35 percent of total overseas visitors to the U.S. visit a national park or monument.”

In another recent study, prepared by Northern Arizona University and the Alliance Bank Economic Policy Institute for the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, data shows that North Rim visitors who are allowed to make it to the other side for an additional month in the year boost the regional economy by a whopping $14.2 million, helping to support 183 jobs in Arizona and Utah.

This year also marks another big milestone for the Grand Canyon as it turns 100 years old. Well, that’s 100 years old in terms of being an official national park. The actual age of the site is more like 70 million years old.

This past February, the National Park Service celebrated the centennial and set in motion a number of events and celebrations to honor the park. Storytellers will visit the park to tell the history and significance of the Grand Canyon and its home state. The park will also host family campouts and will feature traditional Native American performances.

Toward the end of this month (June 22 through June 29), the Grand Canyon will play host to the Centennial Summer Fest and Star Party. The eight-day event allows park visitors and nearby residents gaze at the star-spangled skies hanging above the South Rim with the help of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix on the North Rim. Stargazers can get a look at the cosmos and spot planets like Jupiter and Saturn through telescopes.

Nick Esquer

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