(WETM) – Governor Hochul announced Tuesday that 2021 was a record year for State Park attendance, “a dramatic rebound” from 2020 when the pandemic began.

According to the Governor, New York State parks, historic sites, campgrounds and trails saw more than 78.4 million guests last year. Niagara Falls topped the list with more than nine million visitors alone, three million more than the year before.

In the Southern Tier, the Mark Twain State Park and Soaring Eagles Golf Course in Chemung County had 26,637 guests last year, an increase of more than 4,300 from 2020, according to state data.

Hochul said 2021 saw an increase of more than 427,000 visitors over 2020 when COVID protocols shuttered many social activities. “During the pandemic, parks and public spaces have become more important than ever — providing New Yorkers with safe and enjoyable outdoor spaces for gatherings and recreation,” Hochul said.

The Governor’s announcement added that State Park visits have risen 41 percent since 2008.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “I am grateful that even more people decided they wanted to go to our State Parks and Historic Sites in 2021, even as other recreation options were becoming more available to them.

Last month, Hochul’s 2023 Executive Budget included $200 million to improve State Parks, $90 million more than the year before, according to the budget documents.