Park generates millions in spending

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About 600,000 people visited the Virgin Islands National Park last year, according to research by Michigan State University. They generated $69.2 million dollars in spending.

The school’s report on “Economic Impacts of Recreation & Tourism” estimated as many as 100,000 people stayed overnight in the Park.  The study also said the Park’s facilities, activities and attractions were responsible for supporting 1,653 jobs.  However, the report did not clearly explain the ‘jobs supported” calculation. The Park itself has 74 employees, and payroll for 2007 was reported as  $2.899 million. That’s an average of about $39,000, not including benefits.

Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said the Michigan State report was evidence of the importance of the Park to the island’s economy.  In comments to the St. John Source, Hardgrove noted that cruise ships and day trippers account for a significant park of the Park’s popularity and, therefore, revenue generation.

    The Source also reported that Joe Kessler, president of the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, thought the study’s estimates of visitors was markedly low and off by perhaps 50%.

Read the MSU report: http://web4.canr.msu.edu/mgm2/parks/MGM2_CY07.pdf

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