Ha’ena Napali – Hawaii
Ha’ena Napali – Hawaii
State parks play a vital role in attracting tourists. State parks attract out-of-state visitors and encourage in-state travel by residents bringing tourist dollars into the state’s economy. Investment in the budget of a state parks and recreation department not only produces important services, it also has a multiplier effect that returns greater then the original amount to the state in real dollars.
The impact of state parks on the state and local economies is enormous. Every travel dollar spent changes hands several times before leaving the locality in which it is spent. Only a small portion of tourism dollars is actually spent in parks. The majority of this money is paid to private businesses for gas, food, lodging and other goods. For some businesses, state parks are the very basis for their existence. State parks are detailed on maps, brochures and commercial publications and attract visitors without the private business owner having to invest in advertising. Indeed, state parks are a good investment.
The provision of parks and recreation services play an influential role in a state’s economic development efforts. When companies choose to set up business or relocate, the availability of recreation, parks and open spaces is high on the priority list for site selection. Recreation and parks have a significant influence on people’s preferred living locations.
The National Park Service cite numerous examples based on different states and communities that support quality of life as the main factor in recruiting a business. Quality of life includes convenient access to natural settings; recreational and cultural opportunities and open space; and greenways, rivers and trails located in and adjacent to communities.
Use of geologically or environmentally sensitive areas for open space or recreation purposes can reduce potential property damage costs and loss of life. Hazards which can be mitigated through conservation of open space include flooding, slope instability, structural fire damage and earthquake losses.
Research has shown that the economic benefits of park land trees and forests are enormous. For example, areas identified as having significant economic impacts are increased real estate values, energy savings, enhanced opportunities for recreation, improved air quality and storm-water management.
Physical and mental health achieved through recreation and balanced, meaningful lifestyles reduces expensive health care costs. The nation could save $20 billion per year in the United States if every sedentary American walked an hour a day according to a study conducted by Brown University. Employees who recreate and are physically fit are more productive, absent less often and less likely to have an accident.
Parks and recreation programs can provide positive activities for youth leisure time. It costs more than one hundred times per youth to incarcerate a child than it does to provide recreation programs. In the U.S. in 1992, 21.8 million youth under the age of 21 were arrested and the cost of incarcerating these youth was $2.3 billion annually. According to James Sharp, former president of the National League of Cities, “We are going to recreate or we are going to incarcerate.”