The Grand Canyon is a beautiful, long hole in the ground. It had over 5.5 million visits in 2015. Those visits produced $509 million to the economy. It also helped create and support 8,897 jobs.
The National Park Service contributes a huge sum to the economy each year. According to its most recent Visitor Spending Effects analysis:
In 2015, the National Park System received over 307.2 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $16.9 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 295 thousand jobs, $11.1 billion in labor income, $18.4 billion in value added, and $32.0 billion in economic output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with $5.2 billion in economic output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally. The sector with the next greatest direct contributions was the restaurants and bars sector, with $3.4 billion in economic output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally.
It could be that a limited portion of the federal government does something beyond tax and spend.
The Grand Canyon is a fine example of how the system works. In terms of contribution to the economy, it is in third place among the nation’s parks, behind the Blue Ridge Park, which has creates $952 million for the economy and supports 15,337 jobs, and the Great Smoky Mountains Park, which creates $873 million for the economy and supports 13,709 jobs.
Methodology: Three key pieces of information are required to estimate the economic effects of NPS visitor spending: visitor spending patterns in local gateway regions, the number of visitors who visit each park and regional economic multipliers that describe the economic effects of visitor spending in local economies. Visitation source data are derived from a variety of efforts by the NPS Social Science Program.