Dr. Steve Morse presents an economic impact of the national park closure in Gatlinburg to state legislators. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- An economist who studies the Smokies says the government shutdown has cost the area millions of dollars in lost tourist spending over a 10 day period.
Dr. Steve Morse, Director of Western Carolina University's Hospitality and Tourism Program released his study at a Join Legislative Luncheon in Gatlinburg on Friday. He says the park's closure will hurt more in October.
"It's the 2nd highest month for visitation in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park," said Morse. "So October is big and having the government shutdown right now is devastating to this area."
Morse studied a 60 mile radius around the park and says it's not just the shoulder communities that are impacted by the closure.
"There's a lot of spending that takes place in Knoxville in restaurants, hotels and people doing other things in Knoxville. So that ripple effect to Knoxville is big as well," said Morse.
According to the study, each day that the park is closed:
* 26,577 visitors are lost per day in Tennessee, and 10,335 visitors are lost per day in North Carolina. In the 10 days since the closure began, 369,120 people who would have visited the park were unable to do so (265,767 in Tennessee and 103,354 in North Carolina).
* $3,314,232 per day is not being spent by visitors in the local economy ($2.38 million in Tennessee and $927,985 in North Carolina). Since Oct. 1, that equates to $33,142,324 in total lost visitor spending ($23.86 million in Tennessee and $9.27 million in North Carolina).
* $1,226,266 per day is lost in worker wages and paychecks ($882,911 in Tennessee and $343,354 in North Carolina). Since Oct. 1, that totals $12,262,660 in lost worker income ($8.82 million in Tennessee and $3.43 million in North Carolina).
* $181,343 is lost per day in state taxes ($130,567 in Tennessee and $50,776 in North Carolina). That adds up to $1,813,429 in lost state taxes during the first ten days of October ($1.30 million in Tennessee and $507,760 in North Carolina).
* $102,423 is lost per day in local taxes in Tennessee and North Carolina cities and counties within 60 miles of the park ($73,745 in Tennessee and $28,679 in North Carolina). During the first 10 days of the shutdown, that means $1,024,235 in lost local taxes for cities and counties ($737,449 in Tennessee and $286,786 in North Carolina).