Biosphere reserves are internationally recognised protected areas, designated by the UNESCO to promote sustainable development. Tourism is seen as an important instrument for fulfilling this objective. Thus, for an economic impact analysis of tourism in six German biosphere reserves, visitor counts and the combination of 52,571 short and 8,253 long interviews were conducted during whole tourism ... [Show full abstract] seasons between 2010 and 2013. Visitor days in the six study areas totalled over 20 million per year. The proportion of visitors attracted by the biosphere reserve label and thus having a high biosphere reserve affinity varied between 3.5 % and 21.5 % for the Pfälzerwald and Schaalsee regions respectively. Gross tourist spending in the six investigated biosphere reserves totalled nearly one billion euros, resulting in 28,000 income equivalents. Extrapolation from these six to all German biosphere reserves on the basis of empirically determined figures results in a total of 65.3 million visitor days, gross tourist spending of 2.94 billion euros and over 86,200 income equivalents.