July 20, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Study: Gov't shutdown hurt attendance at Michigan parks

The U.S. government’s 16-day shutdown in October may have hurt attendance at Michigan’s national parks last year, according to a new study released by the U.S. National Parks Survey.

The state received a $166.4 million boost from visitors coming to its national parks in 2013, according to the study released Friday. That’s down from $181.7 million in 2012.

“Although many factors can influence park visitation (nationwide), two events significantly contributed to this decline: the government shutdown in October 2013, and long-term park closures related to lasting effects of Hurricane Sandy from October 2012 through July 2013,” the report said.

The study, by three U.S. Geological Survey economists with the parks service, indicates 1.9 million visitors came to Michigan national parks last year, down from 2.2 million the year before. Those visitors supported 2,547 jobs in 2013, compared to the more than 2,800 jobs at parks in 2012, the study says.

Michigan’s national parks are Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Keweenaw National Historical Park is partially privately owned and was not taken into account in the study.

In 2013, the National Park System received more than 273 million visits from people spending $14.6 billion in surrounding areas, the study says.

According to the report, nationally most visitor spending at parks was for lodging, 30.3 percent; food and beverages, 27.3 percent; gas and oil, 12.1 percent; admissions and fees, 10.3 percent and souvenirs and other expenses accounting for the remaining 10 percent.

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