National Parks still booming in bad economy
February 2, 2009 - 2:43pm
Hank Silverberg, WTOP Radio
MANASSAS, Va. - It's a lucrative industry, even in a bad economy: Civil War battlefields.
A new Michigan State study shows people seeking out the past spent more than $247 million at 10 national parks within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, a 175-mile stretch from Gettysburg to Charlottsville.
It's estimated that every tax dollar spent on those parks generates $4 in visitor spending within a 50-mile radius of the community.
"They come from all over the country and even international," says Ed Clark, superintendent at the Manassas Battlefield. "They stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants. They buy their gas, souvenirs and do other types of shopping."
Clark says the figures will probably go up in a few years when the Civil War turns 150 in 2011. Tourists spent more than $11.7 billion visiting U.S. national parks in 2007.
The battlefields in the National Heritage area include Antietam, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Gettysburg, Appomattox Court House, Catoctin Mountain Park, The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the Monocacy Battlefield.
(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Battlefields good for Economy
This recent study done by Michigan State indicates that Civil War Battlefields and related historic sites prove popular destinations even during difficult economic conditions. I like to think perhaps people are looking to the past to solve the problems of the present and future. It also goes to show that, in the long run, preserving a battlefield or historic place is more economically and morally feasible than bulldozing them and turning them into shopping centers. The town of Gettysburg alone often makes $300-$400 million per year off historic tourism. Oh, if only many local politicians could put two and two together to equal four. You see? Saving battlefields can be the way to stimulate economic growth, not prevent it. If only the American people could understand that.