sexta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2017
IMPACTO ECONÔMICO DOS PARQUES: Parques estaduais da Virgínia (EUA) geraram entre US$ 220 e 259 milhões em 2016
Report outlines economic value of Virginia State Parks
A man-made lake in Spotsylvania and Louisa counties is one of the Virginia State Parks system’s most valuable properties—at least economically.
Lake Anna State Park generated up to $13.6 million last year in “fresh money,” or cash that would not exist without the park. Only three of the state’s more than 30 parks had a greater economic impact: First Landing in Virginia Beach, Pocahontas in Chesterfield County and New River Trail in southwest Virginia.
The information comes from a 2016 “Virginia State Parks Economic Impact Report” commissioned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. Last year alone, the parks system’s economic impact was between $220 million and $259 million, according to the study co-authored by Virginia Tech business professors Vincent Magnini and Muzaffer Uysal.
The report also found that economic activity spurred by state parks generated about $19.6 million in tax revenue last year. Virginia Tech will release a study every year as part of its agreement with the state.
Magnini said the most recent findings show that Virginia boasts a “solid park system … no question.”
“People come to state parks regardless of how the economy’s doing,” he said in a telephone interview. “That really helps insulate the whole tourism infrastructure of the state.”
The Fredericksburg area’s state parks include Caledon in King George County, Lake Anna, Westmoreland, and Widewater in Stafford County. Last year, visitors spent a total of about $1.1 million at Caledon, $12.7 million at Lake Anna and $6 million at Westmoreland. The report also said the four local parks support, directly and indirectly, the equivalent of 286 full-time jobs.
The report does not include visitor spending at Widewater because the 1,100-acre peninsula between Aquia Creek and the Potomac River is under development. But it does attribute five jobs to the park, which the study says had an economic impact of $794,000 last year.
In December, Stafford held a groundbreaking ceremony for Widewater’s first construction phase. The $7.5 million Phase 1, expected to be completed in a little more than a year, includes a visitors center, canoe launch, picnic shelters and other improvements.
Meanwhile, visitor spending at Caledon was among the lowest of all state parks, though Magnini said dollar figures do not tell the whole story. Some parks are “cultural and heritage treasures,” he said, but do not draw as many visitors because of their remoteness.
“Not only do Virginia State Parks produce economic-related results, but they also help foster a host of other societal benefits …,” the report states. “They each serve as settings for rest, relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation that increases visitors’ quality of life.”
Jeff Branscome writes for the (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star.