Assateague Reigns With Visitors Among Maryland Destinations

ASSATEAGUE — A National Parks Service report released this week revealed Assateague Island National Seashore creates over $86 million annually in direct and indirect spending and supports over 1,000 jobs locally.

The NPS economic impact study revealed Assateague Island National Seashore attracted 2.1 million visitors in 2012, the latest year for which data was reviewed. Those visitors spend $86,309,300 directly and indirectly in the communities near the barrier island and supported 1,087 jobs.

“Assateague Island National Seashore is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Debbie Darden this week. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use this park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers.”

A closer look at the data in the report specific to Assateague reveals the barrier island continues to be an economic juggernaut and an important element of the larger tourism industry on the Lower Shore and across Maryland. With 2.2 million visitors in 2012, Assateague generated $86 million in total spending and contributed $29.7 million in labor income. While most locals enjoy the barrier island all year long, 1.5 million non-local visitors enjoyed Assateague in 2012 and contributed $76.3 million in direct and indirect spending.

“National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well,” said Darden. “We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The National Park Service report released this week analyzed the economic impact of all of the facilities in the vast network of parks across the country. The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber, along with Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion in direct spending by the 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

The spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs in the so-called gateway communities in and around the parks. The national parks had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy totaling $26.75 billion. According to the report, most visitor spending supported jobs in restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores, along with hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and other amusements and recreation.