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Updated: June 27, 2022

Tourism in Maine’s national park, sites creates $770M in economic impact

people on hill over ocean Courtesy / Lily LaRegina, Friends of Acadia Hikers take in the view of Frenchman Bay from the summit of the Beehive in Acadia National Park, in August 2021.

A new National Park Service report shows that visitors to Maine's three federally protected recreation spaces, including Acadia National Park, spent $490 million in 2021. 

The total of 4.1 million visits supported 7,070 jobs and had a cumulative economic output of $770 million.

The Maine sites in the report are Acadia National Park, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, in Calais.

Maine ranked No. 15 in visitor spending among states with national parks.

Hotels and restaurants were the largest contributors to the state’s $490 million. Other contributors were camping, gas, groceries, recreation, retail and transportation.

chart with blue bars
Courtesy / National Park Service
A new report shows that visitors to Maine’s three federally run recreation areas — predominantly Acadia National Park — spent $490 million in 2021.

Acadia accounted for most of the impact.

Last year, Acadia had nearly 4.1 million visitors, the highest number since 1989, when 5.4 million people visited Acadia, according to the National Park Service.

Acadia was the sixth-most-visited national park in the country in 2021, behind Great Smoky Mountains, Zion, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain national parks. Among all National Park Service sites, Acadia ranks No. 16, ahead of Cape Cod National Seashore and behind the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

“We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services, experiences and amenities they provide to visitors,” Acadia's superintendent, Kevin Schneider, said in a news release.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Superintendent Mark Wimmer said visitation there has gradually increased since its creation in 2016, reaching roughly 40,000 visits last year and supporting local jobs in Patten, Sherman, Medway and Millinocket and other nearby communities.

blue map
Courtesy / National Park Service
Acadia was the sixth-most-visited national park in the country in 2021.

Economic output had its second-highest year in 2018, at $571 million. 

The visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists at the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey. 

“National parks are a vital part of our nation’s economy, especially for park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry,” said Deputy Regional Director Debbie Conway. 

colorful circle graph
Courtesy / National Park Service
Hotels and restaurants were the largest contributors to visitor spending.

In 2021, the National Park System received over 297 million recreation visits — up 25% from 2020. 

Visitors to national parks spent an estimated $20.5 billion in local gateway regions, which was up 41% from 2020. 

The estimated contribution of the spending to the national economy was 322,600 jobs, $14.6 billion in labor income, $24.3 billion in value added, and $42.5 billion in economic output. 

The lodging sector saw the highest direct effects, with $7 billion in economic output directly contributed to this sector nationally. The restaurant sector received the next-greatest impact, with $4.2 billion in economic output.

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