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National parks generate more than $1B for local economy

Sunday - 3/11/2012, 7:57am  ET

manassasbattlefield500.jpg
Area national parks, like Manassas National Battlefield, helped to generate more than $1.8 billion in revenue. (WTOP file photo)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - You may think of the National Mall or the C&O Canal as a nice place to have lunch or spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, but those locations are also part of some big business for the National Capitol Region.

National parks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia generated more than $1.8 billion in revenue in 2010 from 58 million visitors and supported more than 22,000 related jobs.

National Parks Service Spokesman Bill Line says that includes spending on all kinds of things.

"Hotels, restaurants, souvenirs, books, photography items, taxi cabs, pedi-cabs," he says.

Line says there were more than 12 million international visitors among the approximately 46 million people who visited the 16 National Parks in the National Capitol Region in 2010.

That includes locations as diverse as the National Mall, C&O Canal, Shenandoah National Park, Rock Creek Park and the Battlefields at Manassas and Antietam.

The release of these numbers is part of a National Park Service effort to show the overall economic impact on national parks across the country.

The 394 national parks generated a total of $31 billion and supported more than 258,000 related jobs according to the park service.

That's an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs from 2009.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)