Whitman Mission and branch of Oregon Trail.jpg

A branch of the Oregon Trail passed by Whitman Mission, now a National Historic Site. Diane Reed photo

The Whitman Mission National Historic Site had a $3.3 million economic impact in the area last year, according to a deep dive into the value of national park tourism.

A new National Park Service report revealed 49,300 visitors went through the site in 2018, and spent $2.9 million in surrounding communities.

The spending, the report said, supported 37 jobs, with a cumulative benefit of $3.3 million to the local economy.

“Whitman Mission National Historic Site brings people from across the country to learn about the park’s story,” National Park Service Superintendent Mike Gauthier said in a prepared statement. “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The data is part of a larger study of the economic benefit of national parks.

Economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service conducted the peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis.

Their report determined $20.2 billion of direct spending took place by more than 318 million park visitors to communities within 60 miles of a national park.

The spending supported 329,000 U.S. jobs. Of those, 268,000 were in gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the national economy was $40.1 billion, their survey determined.

The greatest portion of visitor spending is dedicated to lodging. About $6.8 billion was spent on accommodations in 2018. The second largest — $4 billion — was in food, including restaurants and bars. Another $1.4 billion was spent in grocery and convenience stores.

An interactive tool created through the report allows visitors to the National Park Service site to see the visitor spending, number of jobs, labor income, value added and economic output contributions for the national parks. That includes estimates for local, state and national economies.

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