Last year, visitors to national parks across the United States spent more than $20 billion in local communities.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and its outpost in Oregon City saw record-breaking numbers, according to an annual report by the National Park Service.
The historic site saw more than 1 million visitors last year. Those visitors spent a record amount of almost $65 million in the region. That money supported more than 900 jobs.
Fort Vancouver’s superintendent, Tracy Fortmann, said the site’s location has a lot to do with its popularity.
“We’re situated right next to I-5 corridor. We’re 15 minutes from Portland International Airport. There are just so many opportunities for people to come in and visit and I think that is one of the characteristics and advantages of being an urban national park,” Fortmann said.
Along with being an urban national park, Fortmann said another thing that makes Fort Vancouver unique is that it offers free admission, minus its reconstructed fort site.
“I think that only encourages more people to spend time here and that benefits our community too,” she said. “It brings in people from not just the community that are enjoying it, but the region, nationally and internationally.”
Riding the success of last year’s numbers, Fortmann said she doesn’t foresee the government shutdown affecting tourism this year.
“I just believe that we will continue to grow,” she said. “I think Oregon and Washington continue to be the front-runner states. People want to be here.”
In Oregon, visitors to national parks last year spent a total of $94 million across the state. In Washington, visitors spent more than $500 million.