A new study from Virginia Tech shows Virginia's state park system continues to generate more money than it costs the state to maintain them.
The study found that the 38 state parks infused more than $260 million into the state's economy. Nearly half of all the money spent came from out-of-state visitors. The study also showed that for every $1 in local and state taxes, the parks system generates $1.26 in economic impact.
Vincent Magnini, an associate professor at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, authored the paper. He said the state parks system has been a good investment for the state.
“There are a lot of intangibles with regard to people’s welfare and health and well being, but also from an economic perspective the state parks system makes sense," he said.
The study looked at spending in the park itself, as well as spending at private businesses in the surrounding community. Parks visitors spend money on things gas, food and lodging.
Magnini said that spending is important, particularly to rural communities
“One of the huge benefits about the Virginia State Parks is the infusion of money into the rural areas of Virginia because most of the parks are in rural areas," he said. There are some parks around the state that if it wasn’t for the economic activity of those parks, the area would be worse off.”
According to the study, visitors spent the most money in District 6, which covers much of Southwest Virginia. They spent about $60 million. In the Richmond area, Pocahontas State Park brought in the most visitor spending, generating more than $25 million last year.
Magnini said the $267.1 million in total economic impact is money that would likely not have been generated without the Virginia parks system.