Virginia Tech Report: Va. State Parks Stimulated $250M in Visitor Spending in 2018

February 6, 2019 · 2 minute read

Virginia State Parks helped stimulate more than $249.1 million in visitor spending in 2018, according to a new economic impact report compiled by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.

The report adds to the growing catalog of data documenting how Virginia State Parks contributes to Virginia’s economy.

“The economic impact of Virginia’s state park system has continually trended upward in recent years,” said report author Dr. Vince Magnini of Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. “Because most Virginia State Parks are in rural areas, this impact makes valuable contributions in the state’s regions most in need of such economic activity.”

With 733 acres, seven miles of shoreline on the Northern Neck’s Rappahannock River, and access to Mulberry and Deep creeks, Belle Isle SP lets visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with agricultural fields and upland forests. Credit: DCR

Magnini cites numerous factors contributing to the increase, including the construction of yurts, the addition of parks, such as Natural Bridge State Park and Widewater State Park, and a system-wide focus on increased customer service.

According to the report:

– In 2018, visitors to Virginia’s State Parks spent an estimated $249.1 million in the state. About 46 percent, $113 million, of this spending was by out-of-state visitors.

– The total economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks during 2018 was approximately $338 million.

– The total economic impact of Virginia State Parks in 2018 was approximately $267 million. Economic impact is a measure of “fresh money” infused into the state’s economy that likely would have not been generated without the park system.

– At the individual park level, economic impacts range from $961,000 to $31 million.

– In 2018, for every $1 of general tax revenue allocated to state parks, $14.06, on average, was generated in fresh money that would not be there if not for Virginia State Parks.

– Regarding employment, the economic activity stimulated by visitation to Virginia State Parks supported approximately 3,858 jobs in the state in 2018.

– In terms of wages and income, the economic activity spawned by Virginia State Parks was responsible for roughly $133 million in wage and salary income in 2018.

– Economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks generated about $24 million in state and local tax revenues during 2018. As such, $1.26 in state and local taxes were generated for every dollar of tax money spent on the park system.

“The report documents what we’ve known for years: State parks are an economic engine in local communities and they provide an extraordinary return on investment for Virginia taxpayers,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman. “Last year, out-of-state visitors spent around $113 million as the result of our state park system – an incredible return on only $18.9 million in general fund appropriations.”

The report notes that state parks improved the lives of all Virginians. According to the report, parks have a substantial positive influence on the value of nearby real estate and attract a steady stream of visitors who insulate the economy from economic downturns. Parks are also valued by non-visitors.

For the full Virginia State Parks Economic Impact Report 2018, click here (PDF). For more information about Virginia State Parks, visit .