(RALEIGH, NC- JANUARY 14, 2014)- According to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, the state once again approached a record-setting 14.2 million visits to the parks and recreation areas in 2013. This is the third straight year that attendance has been around the 14 million visit mark. The two parks with the highest attendances were Fort Macon State Park in Carteret County with 1.19 million visits, and Jockey's Ridge State Park in Dare County with 1.18 million visits.
Out of the state's 40 parks and recreation areas, 19 saw attendance increases in the past year. The high visitation rates in 2013 are consistent with the trends over the last 25 years, which show an 80 percent increase in visitation from the 7.89 million visits in 1988. Acting state parks director Carol Tingley spoke on how the parks help feed into the tourism industry. “Throughout fluctuations in the economy and the tourism industry, visitation at state parks has remained steady and robust, and that reflects the value North Carolinians place on outdoor experiences and the state’s rich natural resources,” said Tingley.
“Also, visitation at this level reveals the strong contribution that our state parks make to North Carolina’s tourism economy as well as the economies of the local communities in which they’re located.”
North Carolina State University's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management recently conducted an economic study that estimated the state park's system to have an annual impact of over $400 million.
The New Parks for a New Century initiative aims to capitalize on the growth of park visitation, and has added six new parks across the state since 2003. Carvers Creek State Park in Cumberland County, which has been open since September, had 38,740 visits to close out the year. Other newly opened parks saw a jump in visitation as well, including Mayo River State Park in Rockingham County and Dismal Swamp State Park in Camden County.
For more information, contact Charlie Peek at (919) 218-4622 or visit http://ncparks.gov/News/releases/release.php?id=313