National Tourism Leaders Urge National Park Service Action

Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2007) – Top national tourism leaders today urged National Park Service Director Mary Bomar to approve promptly a new national park tourism plan entitled "Developing Relevance and Connections Through Tourism" and to convene a session to speed implementation of the plan.

According to the Chairman of the National Park Hospitality Association, “The proposed National Tourism Strategic Plan will allow the National Park Service (NPS) to connect more Americans to their parks and reverse a two decade pattern of stagnation and decline in visitation. The plan outlines strategies and actions which have great potential to strengthen cooperative relations between the NPS and its tourism partners, raise park staff understanding of the needs and expectations of actual and potential visitors, enhance the visitor experience in the national parks, introduce a more diverse population to the parks and promote more responsible visitor use.”

The NPS has a tourism office and a Director of Tourism, but the national leaders contend that real progress awaits a formal embrace of the plan by agency leadership. Unfortunately, other pressing issues have dominated meetings of the agency’s leadership team for several months.

According to the letter, “The National Park System is a great legacy and a wonderfully positive force in the lives of those who visit and derive mental and physical benefits, learning and more. The challenge for the NPS is to widely distribute the rewards from the parks to the American people. One of the most vital elements in connecting the American people to their parks is creating awareness. Today’s Americans have more leisure time choices than any previous generation. And many of those choices are promoted with advertising and other messaging that renders simple activities like taking a hike, going on a picnic, camping or going fishing nearly forgotten. The National Park Service and tourism leaders wish to make the opportunities for healthy outdoor fun, nearby and distant alike, readily apparent. Action is needed immediately to help achieve shared goals including increased awareness and use of lesser-known park units, increased use of well-known national park system units during non-peak periods and increased awareness and use of the entire national park system by America’s youth, especially urban and minority youth.”

Signers of the letter include:

Joe Fassler, President, National Park Hospitality Association
Dennis Szefel, President, Hospitality Group, Delaware North Companies
Bruce Fears, President, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging
Rex Maughan, Chairman, Forever Resorts
Bob Warren, Chairman, National Alliance of Gateway Communities
Randy Julian, Chair, National Tour Association
Caroline Beteta, Chair, Western States Tourism Policy Council
Linda Profaizer, President, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds
Peter Pantuso, President, American Bus Association
William Hardman, President, Southeast Tourism Society
Andrew Todd, President, Xanterra Parks and Resorts
Derrick Crandall, President, American Recreation Coalition

To view a copy of the letter click here.