What happens to tourism when Apple starts naming its products after national parks

Did the name of an Apple product make this crowd at Yosemite National Park get bigger? (Mark RalstonAFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been a good year for Yosemite National Park. After the world’s biggest tech company decided to name its operating system “OS X Yosemite,” it sent a wave of free advertising to the California park. The data seems to show that this simple, gracious branding strategy had a meaningful impact on one of America’s most cherished national parks.

(Google Trends)

Google searches, above, spiked in June of last year after Apple’s initial announcement, and then skyrocketed after the Yosemite operating system was released to the public last October.

But Google search traffic could be misleading. Perhaps folks were just looking for how to install the new operating system.

So I asked Hotels.com to pull search data for The Ferenstein Wire. They found that the operating system announcement correlated with a noticeable uptick in users looking to stay in hotels at the park. Compared to the week before the launch in 2014, Hotels.com saw a 21 percent spike in hotel searches around Yosemite National Park. They’ve also seen a 54 percent uptick from August 2013 to August 2014.  Hotels.com declined to share any data about actual bookings.

There’s also been a global worldwide surge in general interest in the park. Wikipedia traffic for the Yosemite National Park saw a massive uptick the day after the Apple announcement on June 2, 2014, according to a public database of Wikipedia traffic stats.

(The Ferenstein Wire)

There’s been a general decline in interest in the Yosemite National Park Wikipedia article, which saw a big downturn in May 2014 (the month before Apple’s announcement). But compared to the same month in 2013, 2015 saw with roughly a 50 percent spike in page views (4,898 in 2013, 2,687 views in 2014 and 3,680 views in 2015). In other words, there was a turnaround in Wikipedia viewing about Yosemite after Apple’s announcement.

Did any of this translate into actual visits to the park? That’s hard to say. Yosemite did have a strong year in 2014, after a steady decline in attendance since 2010. It’s not unreasonable to credit Apple with the turnout in popularity (at least partially), but hard to say to what degree.

(The Ferenstein Wire)

Thankfully for Yosemite, Apple’s new operating system is named ‘El Capitan,’ after the famous rock formation in the national park.

Apple has been on a green energy streak, aiming to the among the most energy efficient organizations in the world. Even the names it gives products can be a powerful friend to the environment.

The Ferenstein Wire is a syndicated news service. Contact the editor here. For more stories, subscribe to the Ferenstein Wire newsletter here.

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