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Visitors Spend $11.5 Million at Iowa's National Parks

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DES MOINES, Iowa - DES MOINES Visitors to national parks in Iowa spent $11.5 million and supported 176 jobs in the state in 2012, according to a new report issued by the National Park Service's Omaha office.

Michael Reynolds, NPS Midwest regional director, said 207,352 people visited Iowa's national parks -- Effigy Mounds National Monument at Harpers Ferry and the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site at West Branch.

"The national parks of Iowa attract visitors from across the country and around the world and provide premiere historical, cultural, natural, and recreational experiences," Reynolds said in a statement.

"This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy -- returning $10 for every $1 invested -- and funding generated by national parks has a swift and direct positive impact on local economies in Iowa as well," he added.

A peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

That spending in turn supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, according to the report. It also had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

Most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent), according to the research findings.

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