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Three fee-free summer weekends to increase tourism, boost economy offered by National Park Service

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BRECKSVILLE, Ohio – The National Park Service will offer three fee-free weekends this summer to encourage Americans seeking affordable vacations to visit these national treasures. There are 391 national parks located across the country in 49 states.

“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a press conference at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “I encourage everyone to visit one of our nation’s crown jewels this summer and especially to take advantage of the three free admission weekends.

“National Parks also serve as powerful economic engines for local communities and we hope that promoting visitation will give a small shot in the arm to businesses in the area.”

The 147 National Park Service sites across the country that charge fees for entry will waive entrance fees during the weekends of June 20 – 21, July 18 – 19, and Aug. 15 – 16.

Meanwhile, many park partners including tour operators, hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other vendors will offer additional discounts and special promotions on those dates. Click here for more information on the fees and discounts.

Nationwide, parks attracted more than 275 million recreation visits in 2008. Spending by non-local visitor provided $10.6 billion for local economies, supporting more than 213,000 jobs, not counting National Park Service jobs.

“Tourism income helps America’s economic recovery,” Salazar said. “National park sites in the Great Lakes states, for example, attract eight million recreation visits a year that bring $211 million into the local economies. Spending by visitors from out of the area supports 4,400 local jobs. So these areas need to maintain and expand this vital tourism.”

The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites range from $3 to $25. The 244 other parks do not charge entrance fees. The waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors – such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions.