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Spectacular Carlsbad Caverns: Tourism and Economic Benefits

Spectacular Carlsbad Caverns: Tourism and Economic Benefits Main Photo

9 Aug 2021


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This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Department of Development and was written for the Carlsbad Department of Development by Golden Shovel Agency.

National Parks are some of the best destinations to visit in the U.S. and one of those gems is Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Hidden beneath the Chihuahuan Desert's deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, and wildlife are ancient caves of all sizes that were formed when the slow drip of water landed with sulfuric acid dissolved the limestone. The allure of Carlsbad Caverns National Park brings in major tourism that has substantial economic benefits for the community.

Quoted in a press release, Douglas Neighbor, Superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns, said, "National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service; and it's a big factor in our local economy as well."

A 2019 National Park Service report shows that 466,000 visitors to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 2018 spent $30.2 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 405 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $34 million.

Lodging expenses accounted for the largest share of visitor spending with food expenses coming in second. when it was time to eat, visitors spent their dollars in restaurants and bars, as well as in grocery and convenience stores.

In 2020, tourism slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but things are starting to pick back up. "Visitation has been good at Carlsbad Caverns," said Michael Larson, Chief of Interpretation at Carlsbad Caverns. "We have a limit of 1,000 visitors per day, and reservations with staggered times to help with social distancing."

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