Estimated Economic Impacts of Tennessee State Parks
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
J. Mark Fly, Ph. D.
Burton C. English, Ph. D.
R. Jamey Menard, M.S.
Kim L. Jensen, Ph. D.
Copperhead Rock at Fall Creek Falls
Boundless Playground at Warrior's Path
Water Falls at Rock Island
Liberty at Sycamore Shoals
Bikers at Panther Creek
The State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan is prepared every five years by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The most current plan, Tennessee 2020 - A Vision Plan for Land, Water, & Quality of Life, has been reviewed and approved by the National Park Service and will be published in Spring 2010.
Tennessee 2020 cites the critical need of decision-makers to receive accurate information about the value of funding for parks, recreation, and conservation. The Tennessee 2020 plan addresses this need by including an economic impact study performed by the University of Tennessee that quantifies the significant positive impact Tennessee State Parks have on the state’s economy.
This Economic Impacts of Tennessee State Parks study featured a random digit dial telephone survey of 1,137 Tennessee residents 18 years of age and older was conducted by the Human Dimensions Research Lab in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Expenditures by state park visitors were placed into state and local input/output models developed by the Agri‐Industry Modeling & Analysis Group (AIMAG) to evaluate the economic impacts of Tennessee State Parks.
A summary of the study findings are:• The recreation survey included questions for the 564 visitors to Tennessee State Parks about their use of and attitudes toward Tennessee State Parks and their most recent State Park trip expenditures.
• In 2008‐2009, an estimated 16.9 million people visited Tennessee State Parks.
• With an estimated three (3) people per vehicle, there were 5,637,623 groups who visited State Parks with an average mean expenditure per group per trip of $128.64.
• These trips resulted in $725.2 million in direct expenditures by State Park visitors.
• For every dollar spent on trips to Tennessee State Parks, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated throughout the state. When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output.
• For every dollar spent from the State Park’s budget allocation from the general fund ($41 million), it generates over $17 in direct expenditures and over $37 in economic impacts (total industry output).
• The total indirect business taxes generated from expenditures by Tennessee State Park visitors were over $106 million.
• The $725 million in direct expenditures supports almost 12,000 jobs across Tennessee.• $1.5 billion in total industry output supports over 18,600 jobs in Tennessee.
Economic activity generated by Tennessee State Parks has a very significant impact on Tennessee’s economy and creates thousands of jobs in many rural areas of the state where jobs are needed most. The direct benefits visitors gain from their State Park visits also have significant economic benefits to Tennessee by reducing physical and mental health costs and increasing overall productivity. Finally, Tennessee State Parks improve Tennessee’s economic well‐being by increasing the state’s attractiveness to outside industries, retirees, and people seeking to relocate in areas rich in natural amenities.
Helpful linksClick here to view summary of Economic Impacts of Tennessee State Parks study.
Click here to view TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke’s cover letter for the Economic Impacts of Tennessee State Parks study.