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Interior announces plans to improve visitor services through concessioners via important regulatory reform

Interior announced plans July 16 to improve visitor experiences in national parks through improved and responsive services provided by concessioners. The news release is at https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/trump-administration-advances-efforts-improve-visitor-experience-national-parks and includes these comments:

WASHINGTON – Today, the Trump Administration announced that for the first time in twenty years, the National Park Service (NPS) is proposing long overdue improvements to the regulations that govern contracts to enhance visitor services at NPS units. If approved, the revisions would reduce administrative burdens for concessioners to promote competition, provide more flexibility to add new services and encourage investment in concession facilities.

“This proposed regulation is one more step in the Trump Administration’s effort to create an environment that optimizes our service to the American people at our great national parks by improving the visitor experience,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “We look forward to receiving public comments on this important initiative.”

“Concessioners have been creating lasting national park memories for more than 125 years. The proposed changes are an important step toward strengthening our public-private partnerships and expanding sustainable, high quality and contemporary visitor services in our national parks,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director.

Concessioners provide vital visitor services, generating $1.5 billion in gross revenues annually in over 100 units of the NPS. These concessioners bring investment, needed facilities, and recreation opportunities to national parks. They pay approximately $135 million in fees to the NPS annually and employ more than 25,000 people. Services provided include food, lodging, gifts and souvenirs, equipment rental, marinas, transportation, guided recreation, and other visitor services. The Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998, which governs these concession agreements, has not been substantively revised since the implementing regulations were first promulgated in April 2000.

The proposed regulations will be published in next Monday’s Federal Register. An advanced copy ican be found here.

This is very, very exciting and will need your involvement. Congratulations – NPHA made this happen. Comments are due by September 20th.

 

National Park Hospitality Association

Contact: derrick@parkpartners.org

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