Published on : Friday, January 13, 2017
Over the past year, 775 travel industry volunteers donated 5,000 hours – worth $117,000 – to the National Park Service (NPS) with Tourism Cares for Our National Parks, in celebration of the 2016 NPS centennial year, and in recognition of the vital, symbiotic relationship between the parks and travel.
“Tourism Cares volunteers demonstrate a real love and appreciation for the parks, fostered by knowledge of how important they are to the tourism industry,” said Donald Leadbetter, tourism program manager for the NPS. “That authentic connection was visibly demonstrated in the quantity and quality of the work completed by the groups.
“My volunteer group at Ellis Island, for example, filled dozens of sand bags, multiple pallets worth, and kept up an amazing pace for hours, “ he said. “Tourism Cares groups know how vital their volunteer work is and how appreciative the park staff are, and you really see it in the results.”
Tourism Cares worked with the National Park Foundation to identify projects where volunteers would have a high impact, and included both iconic parks and lesser known sites in keeping with the National Park Foundation’s Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque movement: Grand Canyon National Park, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Atlanta), Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Minneapolis), Mount Rainier National Park and Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.
“Find Your Park has inspired people everywhere to engage more deeply with national parks and their programs and we’ve seen thousands of new volunteers dedicate their time to these treasured natural, cultural, and historical sites,” said Stefanie Mathew, vice president of corporate partnerships for the National Park Foundation. “Through its volunteer programs, Tourism Cares encouraged greater stewardship to ensure these special places are protected and continue to thrive for the next 100 years.”
Renowned as natural and cultural treasures, NPS sites also support economies in communities near the parks. Over the last year, park visitors spent an estimated $17 billion in local gateway regions while visiting NPS lands across the country. These expenditures supported a total of 295,000 jobs, $11 billion in labor income, $18 billion in value added, and $32 billion in economic output nationally, according to a recent NPS Visitors Spending Report.