Editorial: Increase in national parks' visitation is a good sign
Last week we reported a 3.9 percent increase in visitation to our nation's national parks. Ten million more Americans and foreign tourists visited national parks in 2009, marking the fifth busiest year ever for the National Park System. More than 285 million people visited national parks and other units of the National Park Service (NPS) during 2009, up from nearly 275 million in 2008, according to statistics released by the NPS. Grand Canyon alone saw 4,348,068 visitors, ranking as the second most-visited national park.
Despite a recession, people are still visiting national parks. That is good news for our region. Our proximity to Grand Canyon National Park is priceless. A study released last week revealed that NPS supports more than 223,000 jobs and generates nearly $145 billion in economic activity across the country.
It would be great if these numbers continue to rise. Our community relies heavily on tourism, and this is not expected to change anytime soon. Spring break typically kicks off our tourism season. And with the May opening of Bearizona, we are sure to see an overall increase in visitation to our area. We must do all we can to capitalize on increased visitation. Williams is a tourist town; let's strive to be the best we can be. If we succeed, we all win.
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