Report: National Parks brought $73M into V.I. in 2013

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ST. THOMAS - A new report from the federal government finds the V.I. National Parks brought about $73.2 million into the territory's economy in 2013.

According to the report, the territory's national parks also contributed 897 jobs for Virgin Islanders.

The annual report charts the nation's parks and the economic benefit they have on their local economies and the country as a whole.

Approximately 591,002 people came to visit the territory's national parks last year: 438,601 came to the V.I. National Park on St. John; 4,791 came to the Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve on St. Croix; 28,972 came to Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix; and 118,638 visited the Fort Christiansvaern national park site in Christiansted.

"Virgin Islands is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world," V.I. National Park Superintendent Brion Fitzgerald said in a written statement.

"We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use the park as a way to introduce our visitors to the Caribbean and to the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands."

The annual report on visitor spending was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber, along with Lynne Koontz from the National Park Service.

The report looked at how many visitors a park had, the total visitor spending, the number of jobs that spending supports, and the economic value of the park to a local economy.

"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," Fitzgerald said.

Visitors to the V.I. National Park on St. John spent a total of $64.7 million while on vacation visiting the park, according to the report.

On St. Croix, the total spending was about $8.5 million - $265,000 at Salt River; $6.5 million at Fort Christiansvaern; and about $1.7 million for Buck Island. 

Despite federal budget cuts in February and March, and the sequester which shut down the V.I. National Parks for six days in October, both the number of visitors and the economic impact was up in 2013 compared to 2012.

Visitor arrivals to the parks rose from about 519,000 in 2012 to about 591,000 in 2013, and spending associated with the visits increased from about $71.9 million to $73.2 million.

For the National Park Service as a whole, the 2013 report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. The spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

Most visitor spending was for lodging, followed by food and beverages, gas and oil, admissions and fees and souvenirs and other expenses, according to the report.

To download the report visit

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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