Our national parks are well-loved and highly visited attractions frequented by travelers of all kinds, year-round.
Since a proposed fee increase—meant to address a $12 million maintenance backlog—was announced in October 2017, there's been plenty of speculation and concern over what this means for the future of travel to these destinations.
The American Bus Association (ABA) recently sent out a letter detailing information on some of the latest developments:
As you probably know the National Park Service (NPS) finalized plans in April 2018 to considerably increase fees for a variety of motorcoach and group tours visitors that visit the national parks, monuments, and historical sites. The purpose of the increase is to fund the $12 billion backlog NPS faces in maintaining park sites.
ABA has been fighting these increases on your behalf since October 2017 when they were first announced, including meeting with Congressional offices and Department of the Interior and National Park Service officials, in addition to working with fellow associations and groups to raise awareness. Currently, the situation is not likely to change. Although these fees may be pushed back, it is unlikely we will see them go away. These fees are scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2019.
Do your customers know about this issue? Are your customers aware they will be footing the bill for NPS's backlog, while travelers in personal vehicles are not affected? Further, do they understand that these changes will not only affect the main national parks, such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, but also historical sites and monuments (e.g. Washington D.C. and Gettysburg) and seashores (e.g. Cape Cod National Seashore and the Outer Banks)? This list covers all NPS-controlled sites. To see all NPS-managed sites, click here.
In brief, all park sites will charge commercial tour fees made up of three components: the CUA application fee ($300 per group), a CUA management fee ($5 per person on the tour) and an entrance fee (varies from park to park). Even parks that have never charged any fees before will now charge something. In addition, CUA holders will be required to keep track of and file annual reports, including any fees owed that were not paid at the park site.
Fees will be broken down in three steps:
The CUA application fee will be an annual fee of $300 per year, some parks will grant a two-year application fee. This will be mandatory for all NPS units.
The CUA management fee is a $5 per passenger fee. This is a per passenger fee that must be paid as part of the entry fee, or with the annual report if there is no entry fee.
The entrance fee is no longer a "per vehicle fee," but instead a "per passenger fee." Groups will need to pay for their trip participants based on each park's per person entrance rate, to which the additional$5/passenger CUA management fee will be added.
Motorcoaches are the most environmentally friendly way to travel to NPS sites, in addition to providing an affordable and enjoyable way for so many travelers to visit these majestic and historical sites. But NPS's actions penalize travel by motorcoach. So, to help you communicate with customers, ABA created a notice for you to share and inform them why the costs of your tours will increase because of NPS's new outrageous fee structure.
To access a document that you can send to your customers and/or put on your website, click here.
If you would like further information on these NPS changes, or how you can contact your Congressional representatives, reach out to ABA's Government Affairs team at [email protected]. Or, stay on top of the issue by checking out our Working for You section on buses.org.
The American Bus Association
Additionally, ABA is encouraging the submission of comments in response to an Information Collection Request notice (ICR) published by NPS on May 28. This ICR gives the industry another opportunity to push back on NPS’s April 2018 changes. Comments must be submitted by July 29 and can be sent to:
Mail: Phadrea Ponds
Acting NPS Information Collection Clearance Officer
1201 Oakridge Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 1 (970) 267-7213
*Be sure to reference this number in your comments: OMB Control Number 1024-0268*
Courtesy of Groups Today.