Moffat County tourism director says economic study proves Dinosaur National Monument’s value
Moffat County’s tourism director is right about one thing — tourism is a valuable industry in Moffat County.
A recent study released by the National Park Service says 304,468 visitors to Dinosaur National Monument in 2018 spent $18.3 million in communities near the monument, supported 222 jobs in the local area, and had a cumulative benefit to the local economies of $20.3 million.
Tom Kleinschitz, director of Moffat County Tourism Association, said the study provides data on just how many visitors come to our area.
“The monument’s study is an important one and does show the raw number of people coming to see the biggest attraction, the wall of bones,” Kleinschnitz said. “We do get some of that business here in Moffat County and actually market directly to those interested in the National Monument and public lands in general. We aim at those that may be visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and then going on to Yellowstone. We hope to capture a portion of those coming through our region visiting public lands.”
Kleinschnitz said Vernal, Utah has long reaped the rewards of Dinosaur National Monument.
“A great deal of the economic impact that comes from the monument is realized in the Vernal area,” Kleinschnitz said. “The two reasons are probably associated with the Dinosaur Quarry being so close to that community and that their tourism promotion has always been aimed at featuring the Dinosaur experience. They consider themselves the gateway community for Dinosaur National Monument.”
Moffat County has plans in the works to market more of Dinosaur’s gems inside Moffat County.
“My hope is to capture some of that market, first by having our community embrace the concept of being a National Park Service gateway community,” Kleinschnitz said. “The other part of the equation is that a vast majority of the Monument itself is in Moffat County and features like the Yampa bench road are simply world class. Other major places that are incredible include the Gates of Lodore, the Harper’s Corner Overlook. Also in Moffat County. The “Canyon Country’ portion of the Monument offers the best of topography and should be a priority for those seeking the best of public lands.”
The National Park Service study said statewide, lodging expenses accounted for the largest share of visitor spending near national parks — about $6.8 billion in 2018, resulting in some 58,000 jobs. Spending on food was the second largest spending area at some $4 billion spent in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores resulting in more than 61,000 jobs. The release said visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs in Colorado.
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