Last month, at the IITA Summit, I introduced an advocacy program that we have begun, to work toward becoming a conduit between the National Park Service and our members. As many of the major National Parks face overcrowding issues they have been tasked with developing their own protocol for resoloving the problem. The IITA wants to take an active lead in being a part of these discussions as it is our business - both suppliers and ITO that are directly impacted. Donald Leadbetter, NPS Tourism Program Manager out of the DC office, talked more about this issue at the general session and was thrilled to see IITA taking a stand to help coordinate efforts.
Last week, I was in Reno, NV attending the Go West Summit where we took this program one step further with a roundtable discussion. Participants included: James Scoon,Wyoming Office of Tourism; Quintin Blair,Blair Hotels of Wyoming; Lance Syrett, BW Ruby’s Inn and other Bryce Park entrance properties; Donald Leadbetter, NPS, and myself representing IITA and inbound tour operators. What we found out was that this is one of the “hottest issues” in the American West. Several parks have already begun to have local meetings— we need to be a part of the conversation. The decisions that are made will have a direct impact on park visitation from our international guests! Much angst is coming from properties and communities near the parks that feel like they are being left out of important decisions being made by the NPS. Arches Park superintendent has already announced that they are exploring moving to a full reservation system for daily entrances starting in 2018! Many other parks are looking to limit visitation in one form or another.
IITA is working on the forefront of this “wave” to keep our members informed and work with key partners like the NPS and Brand USA on ways to promote off-season visitation and lesser known parks. We must also get behind the NPS to help facilitate an infrastructure budget that will help the parks be equipped to meet the needs of visitors making their experience a positive one! IITA will be meeting again with the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. during Destination Capitol Hill. Expect more information moving forward as this subject continues to become an even bigger issue over the next few months! If you would like to become directly involved with IITA's efforts please email firstname.lastname@example.org or me.
-Gary Schluter, Chairman
Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours