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Smokies, Big South Fork bring big economic boost to local communities

The report said there was $20.2 billion spent directly in communities within 60 miles of a national park in 2018 by more than 318 million visitors.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — A National Park Service report says that visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park spent $953 million in communities near the park last year.

A park news release says the spending came from the 11.4 million visitors to the park in 2018. The spending supported more than 13,700 jobs in the local area.

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The same report found that the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, located in Scott and Fentress counties in Tennessee, created $25.6 million dollars in economic benefits for that area. More than 760,000 people visited BSF in 2018 and their spending supported 290 jobs in the local community.

The numbers are included in a peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.

According to the report, there was $20.2 billion spent directly in communities within 60 miles of a national park in 2018 by more than 318 million national park visitors.

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