Visitor spending effects: assessing and showcasing America's investment in national parks

Journal of Sustainable Tourism
By: , and 



This paper provides an overview of the evolution, future, and global applicability of the U.S. National Park Service's (NPS) visitor spending effects framework and discusses the methods used to effectively communicate the economic return on investment in America's national parks. The 417 parks represent many of America's most iconic destinations: in 2016, they received a record 331 million visits. Competing federal budgetary demands necessitate that, in addition to meeting their mission to preserve unimpaired natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment of the people, parks also assess and showcase their contributions to the economic vitality of their regions and the nation. Key approaches explained include the original Money Generation Model (MGM) from 1990, MGM2 used from 2001, and the visitor spending effects model which replaced MGM2 in 2012. Detailed discussion explains the NPS's visitor use statistics system, the formal program for collecting, compiling, and reporting visitor use data. The NPS is now establishing a formal socioeconomic monitoring (SEM) program to provide a standard visitor survey instrument and a long-term, systematic sampling design for in-park visitor surveys. The pilot SEM survey is discussed, along with the need for international standardization of research methods.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Visitor spending effects: assessing and showcasing America's investment in national parks
Series title Journal of Sustainable Tourism
DOI 10.1080/09669582.2017.1374600
Volume 25
Issue 12
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 1865
Last page 1876
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details