By MELISSA LOVERIDGE Bozeman Daily Chronicle
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Tourist spending in and around Yellowstone National Park supported about 7,000 jobs in 2019, according to a National Park Service report released this week.
The roughly 4 million people who visited the world’s first national park in 2019 spent $507 million dollars in towns within 60 miles of the park. That doesn’t include Bozeman, which is about 80 miles from Yellowstone’s border, but does include gateway cities West Yellowstone and Gardiner.
“The positive economic impacts of Yellowstone are essential to the economies of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho,” said Cam Sholly, Yellowstone superintendent, in the release. “It is important that we continue working with our state and local partners to balance the many benefits of tourism with our continued efforts to protect the world-class resources within the park.”
Lodging made up the largest slice of spending near Yellowstone in 2019 with $169 million spent on hotels and other accommodations, followed by $85.9 million spent on restaurants and $56.4 million spent on recreation, including outfitters and guides.
Nationally, visitors to national parks spent a combined $21 billion at businesses in communities near parks, according to the report. That money helped support 340,500 jobs.
National spending near parks followed a pattern similar to spending near Yellowstone, with more money spent on lodging than anything else. Hotels and other accommodations brought in $7.1 billion, followed by $4.2 billion spent at restaurants, $2.16 billion on fuel and $1.93 billion on retail spending nationally.
Yellowstone was closed on March 24 for seven weeks this spring in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Its Wyoming entrances opened in mid-May and Montana entrances opened June 1.
That closure at the beginning of the summer season was a hit to gateway businesses, but traffic at the park has been steady since its reopening.
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