RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia State Parks continued a six-year trend by setting a new attendance record with 8,997,661 visitors in 2014, 1.4 percent higher than 2013’s record attendance of 8,871,822.
“The message is clear,” McAuliffe said, “Virginians look to our state parks for affordable, enjoyable family fun and recreational opportunities. Millions of visitors from across the Commonwealth and across the country appreciate the beauty and serenity of nature found in Virginia State Parks.”
The 36 parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. According to the Governor’s office, Virginia State Parks directly and indirectly had an economic impact of $208 million in 2014, an increase over the previous record of $206 million in 2013.
“State parks help local economies generate more than $12 for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget,” said McAuliffe. “Tourism is a major economic stimulus in Virginia, and our state parks provide jobs and help spur spending in rural areas of the state.
“My family and I have made a commitment to visit every Virginia state park by the time I leave office and I hope my fellow Virginians will join us in making use of these outstanding natural assets.”
Day use attendance in 2014 also reached a record level, increasing to 7,910,226 from 7,779,790 in 2013.
“Six years of continued increases is an impressive achievement, and it says much about the enthusiasm of our visitors who return to our parks month after month, and year after year,” said DCR Director Clyde Cristman. “With more programs and activities, more trails and concerts, more to see and do in our parks, people know that our parks are a good way to spend valuable leisure time.”
“Last year, our state parks hosted more than 1 million overnight guests and millions more who visited daily,” Cristman added. “With lower gas prices, a growing economy, and the state campaign to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Virginia, we could see another record setting year in 2015.”