Report: National parks shutdown cost Arizona $27 million

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona communities that serve as gateways to the Grand Canyon lost out on $17 million during last year's partial government shutdown, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.

The report found that Grand Canyon visitors typically spend $37.6 million during October on gas, food, lodging, souvenirs and other things. That figure fell to $20.6 million as Congress wrangled over the federal budget, forcing the closure of national parks.

Overall, Arizona lost out on about $27 million during the 16-day shutdown, coming in second to California. Gateway communities in North Carolina, Wyoming and Virginia also lost more than $20 million in visitor spending in October when compared with a three-year average.

The Obama administration eventually allowed states to pay to reopen national parks to offset harm to tourism. Arizona opted to reopen the Grand Canyon at a cost of $465,000 over five days. For every dollar that Arizona contributed, visitors spent $10, the report showed.

Utah, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee also reopened parks. A bill is pending in Congress to reimburse those states.

The Park Service on Monday also released its 2012 year-end report for visits and economic impact. The Grand Canyon held steady at more than 4.4 million visitors.

Arizona's national parks combined had nearly 10 million visitors in 2012, contributing more than $745 million to local economies. Much of that - $453.6 million - came from Grand Canyon visitors.

The estimates are based on surveys from national parks.