Greetings from IITA on this first day of summer—and we certainly feel it here in Colorado with temps hovering around 100 degrees F today.
Today, I wanted to return to IPW and the conversation I had with Donny Leadbetter and the National Parks Service. Although the NPS is looking for ways that we can work together, especially on communication issues, it is still the responsibility of each ITO to find out what new rules and regulations might be set in place for each of the National Parks. Each park has the ability to make changes to rules, regulations, and entrance fees on an individual basis. However, each park is also to have at least an 18-month planning period before major changes are put into place. Donny is working on a website that will allow us to know when the parks are looking to make changes and when hearings will be held for public discussion on any changes and IITA will be looking to check this site frequently in order to also pass information along to our ITO members. But it is also the responsibility of each ITO to know the park regulations and fees.
Some parks are starting to have Commercial Permitting fees (Arches) that each ITO must apply for before sending any commercial groups. With these, they need to have copies of insurance forms from the ITO as well as any transportation company you might be using when your groups enter these parks. Some parks are changing their entrance fee system by no longer allowing company checks, allowing only payments by cash or credit card. Something you will need to know for your tour leaders! My suggestion at this time for your 2018 planning is to check the website of each and every park where you may be sending a group to see about any fee requirements, cost changes, etc. In addition, contact each park directly to check on payment policies as these are not listed on the websites.
In the meantime, IITA (Lisa and myself) will be working with Donny and the NPS to shore up communication and how we can all work together. I suggest we all look at our tour routes to see if there are other NPS-designated areas that may not be so popular, but still offer that great NPS experience—areas that we can begin to promote to our partners as alternatives for spending time. Areas that offer a better NPS experience that will help to move some of the crowds away from the major park areas. At least for a short time!
-Gary Schluter, Chairman
Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours