Spending near 4 West Virginia national parks up in 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – The National Park Service says visitors spent $75 million in communities near four West Virginia national parks last year, up from about $70 million in 2015.

The Park Service says on its website that 1.7 million people visited communities near the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, Gauley River National Recreation Area and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in 2016. That spending supported 1,200 jobs in the local area. Most of those visitors – about 1.2 million – came to the New River Gorge National River.

The statement says that nationally, visitors spent $18.4 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, up from $16.9 billion in 2015. About 31 percent of that money was for lodging, followed by 27 percent for food and beverages.