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Arizona Communities Lost Out on $27 Million in Spending Due to Parks Shutdown

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The National Parks Service estimates that communities near Arizona's national parks lost out on about $27 million in visitor spending when the federal government entered a shutdown in October.

The NPS report estimates that $17 million of the lost visitor spending in Arizona was a result of the Grand Canyon's closure.

See also:
-State Pays to Reopen Grand Canyon

The NPS estimates that California -- home to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park, among others -- was the only state where more visitor spending was lost during the 16-day shutdown.

Especially in remote locations like the Grand Canyon, the surrounding communities rely on park visitors to keep their economies going.

Recall that less than two weeks into the shutdown, Arizona reached an agreement with the federal government for the state to fund the opening of the Grand Canyon. Despite the park's being open for about two-thirds of October, it had about 164,000 fewer visitors that month than it would have had it open the whole time, the NPS estimates.

Although the state still hasn't been reimbursed for the $465,000 spent to reopen the park for five days, until the federal government shutdown ended, nearly 50,000 people visited during those five days. The NPS estimates that every dollar spent by states to reopen parks (five other states ended up doing this) generated about $10 spent by visitors in "gateway communities" around the parks. This includes more than $5 million spent by Grand Canyon visitors in those five days.

Of course, this is all based on estimates, as the report notes:

Visitors may have deferred their visits, visited other recreation areas, chosen other recreation activities, or purchased other non-travel related goods and services. Additionally, the publicity of the NPS closings may have triggered others that were not originally intending to visit a park in October to make a trip once the shutdown ended.

"Impacts on jobs and local income were not calculated because of their long-term nature," the report also notes. "However, income losses to employees of businesses supported by park visitation were likely."

Click here to read the report.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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