TALLAHASSEE — More than 27.1 million people visited Florida’s state parks and trails between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, generating nearly $2.1 billion in direct economic impact. In the year following the state parks system winning a third National Gold Medal in Excellence, record-breaking numbers of visitors were enjoying Florida’s natural treasures and outdoor areas. In fact, more than 1.5 million more people visited in 2013-2014 than 2012-2013. To support this increase in attendance, Governor Rick Scott has directed almost $70 million over the last four years to improve and maintain Florida’s award winning state parks and trails.
Honeymoon Island State Park is the second most visited state park in Florida. The park contributes $85.9 million in direct economic impact and had 1,152,115 visitors between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014. FILE
“We are fortunate to live in a state with so many wonderful natural treasures and great weather, and I encourage all Floridians to get out and enjoy Florida’s parks with their families,” Scott said. “They will have a great experience and support our economy.”
People come from around the world to visit Florida’s award-winning state parks and state trails, said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.
“Our parks offer the best in natural and cultural resources and contribute to the economy of Florida – supporting jobs and local businesses,” Vinyard said.
The top 10 visited state parks and trails are:
1. Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail – $113.7 million direct economic impact and 1,490,078 visitors
2. Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin – $85.9 million in direct economic impact and 1,152,115 visitors
3. Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway – $74.3 million direct economic impact and 927,008 visitors
4. Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach – $72.6 million in direct economic impact and 974,431 visitors
5. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne – $66.4 million in direct economic impact and 882,500 visitors
6. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo – $65.5 million in direct economic impact and 874,179 visitors
7. St. Andrews State Park, Panama City – $65.8 million in direct economic impact and 870,995 visitors
8. Gasparilla Island State Park, Boca Grande – $64.1 million in direct economic impact and 857,884 visitors
9. Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key – $51.2 million in direct economic impact and 675,997 visitors
10. Sebastian Inlet State Park, Melbourne Beach – $48.7 million in direct economic impact and 638,966 visitors.
“For nearly 80 years, Florida’s state parks and trails have inspired residents and visitors,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “From hiking and picnicking to swimming and fishing, visitors seek family friendly, outdoor recreation. We have a tradition of providing just that.”
Direct economic impact is measured by multiplying attendance by a non-local percentage of expenditures and considering each park or trail’s operating expenditures and fixed capital outlay. This method is based on the National Park Service Money Generation Model.
In 2013-2014, the Florida Park Service collected $58,190,363 in revenue from daily entrance fees, overnight accommodations and concessions. This revenue is used for park maintenance, resource protection, visitor services and staff salaries. The Florida Park Service earns 71.3 percent of its $81.6 million operating budget. These efforts support 29,396 jobs for Floridians.