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Contributed photo/ Arkansas Parks & Tourism

Visitors enjoy a sunset horseback ride at Buffalo National River.

The Buffalo National River contributes more to the area than just a great place to spend recreational time.

A press release said the 2018 National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report estimates that 1.2 million visitors spent $54.9 million in the region while visiting Buffalo National River last year.

The annual report measures the economic impact of National Park Service sites on surrounding communities where park visitors find additional amenities and attractions like shopping, dining and lodging. The annual estimates are calculated using visitor surveys and spending patterns, visitation data and regional economic multipliers.

According to the report, hotels and restaurants were the greatest affected sectors in the area, sharing roughly half of the revenue derived from Buffalo National River visitation. Gas and groceries shared another 30% of total revenue.

“The outstanding recreational opportunities available at Buffalo National River are only a part of the experience that visitors are seeking. Getting out into the park, combined with time in nearby communities, is a one-of-a-kind experience,” Superintendent Mark Foust said. “This report shows that park visitors are investing time and money in our communities, which supports local jobs and income.”

At 135 miles long, Buffalo National River flows through Newton, Searcy, Marion and Baxter counties. The park’s gateway communities are located in all of these counties, including Boone County.

EDITOR’S NOTE:Visit www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm to view the full 2018 National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report.

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