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Colonial National Historical Park attracted 3,335,060 visitors in 2014, with estimates from the National Park Service saying those guests spent $187 million and supported more than 3,100 jobs in communities surrounding the park.
The park contains Jamestown Island, much of the land in and around Yorktown, the Colonial Parkway, the Cape Henry Memorial and Green Spring Plantation.
Last year saw about 167,000 more people visit the park than in 2013, when the federal government shutdown closed the park for 16 days in October of that year.
“We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers,” Interim CNHP Superintendent Elaine Leslie said in a news release. “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
Annual visitation numbers to the park have hovered between 3.1 million and 3.4 million people since 1993, when the park attracted 2,345,401 guests. Visitation to the park peaked in the 1960s and 1970s. The park regularly attracted between 6 million and 8 million visitors during those decades.
July attracted the most visitors last year, with 396,495 people visiting the park. Through March of this year, 525,502 people visited the park, which represents a decline of 3,121 people compared to the first three months of 2014.
The economic and employment figures released by NPS were compiled by economists from NPS and the U.S. Geological Survey. Area lodging received the largest slice of CNHP visitor dollars, taking in an estimated 58.9 million of the $187 million total. Restaurants came in second with $42.2 million, followed by gas stations at $24.9 million.
Many of the jobs supported by the park are in the service sector. Of the 3,100 jobs NPS says were sustained by CNHP visitor spending, 873 are in food service and 699 are in lodging.
CNHP opened in 1930 to preserve historic resources at its scattered sites in Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg, which are linked by the 23-mile Colonial Parkway. Green Spring Plantation, the 17th century plantation home of colonial governor Sir William Berkeley, is located near the parkway’s terminus at Jamestown Island. The Cape Henry Memorial is located in Virginia Beach and marks the first spot the Jamestown-bound English settlers landed in 1607.