Tennessee State Parks had an economic impact of $2.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2021, as the parks posted 38.5 million visits, according to a report created for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the department announced Monday.

In comparison, the economic impact of Tennessee State Parks in Fiscal Year 2020 was $1.84 billion with 34.7 million park visits, the department notes.

“Our parks continue to provide an outstanding experience for visitors and a significant financial boost for our state and local communities,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said in a statement. “Tennesseans enjoy one of the best parks systems in the country, and these numbers reflect the impressive performance of our parks across the state.”

In Fiscal Year 2021, the parks generated $121.8 million in state sales taxes and $24.4 million in local sales taxes. The total impact for Fiscal Year 2021 included $144.6 million in capital improvement projects, $21.1 million in deferred maintenance projects, $10.6 million in minor maintenance projects and $35.2 million in grants projects, according to the department.

The figures for Fiscal Year 2021 show a steady climb in recent years in economic impact and number of visits, the department notes. Cumulatively in fiscal years 2019-21, Tennessee State Parks had an economic impact of $4.3 billion, with 109.7 million visits. The figures reflect parks activity through lodging, shopping and recreation spending.

Tennessee State Parks is one of only seven state parks systems in the country that do not charge admission fees, the department notes. Tennessee State Parks last year was named among the top four parks systems in the nation by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

“Our state parks system is embedded in the fabric of Tennessee communities,” Commissioner Salyers said at the time. “Resource protection, natural beauty, top-notch facilities and outdoor experiences make Tennessee State Parks among the best in the nation.”

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Cummins Falls State Park” by GPA Photo Archive. CC BY 2.0.