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Washington, D.C. – National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) Counselor Derrick Crandall told Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members at a recent hearing that national park concessioners can and should play a key role in helping the National Park Service (NPS) solve its financial problems.  He pointed out that the National Park Service “is capital-strapped and has a well-documented inability to maintain its infrastructure … to meet visitor needs and expectations.  Concessioners have been, are and can be key partners in overcoming these challenges.” 

The December 8 hearing on an Obama Administration proposal for new authorities for NPS and highlighted bipartisan interest in preparing the National Park Service (NPS) for its Centennial in 2016. Mr. Crandall offered forward looking testimony detailing innovative ways concessioners can help the Park Service serve its visitors for the next 100 years.  NPS Director Jon Jarvis, National Park Foundation (NPF) President & CEO Will Shafroth and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) President & CEO Theresa Pierno also testified.

Mr. Crandall explained to the unusually large and bipartisan groups of Senators participating in the hearing that most of the National Park System’s iconic lodges were built and have been maintained with private dollars.  These expenditures, he told the panel, “don’t require offsets, don’t use taxpayer dollars, don’t add to the nation’s deficit.” “...concessioners can be a significant player in reducing NPS’ deferred maintenance backlog now facing American taxpayers with a few changes...”  He offered several ideas including encouraging and rewarding concessioner excellence, appropriate use of Leaseholder Surrender Interest (LSI), lengthening of concessioner contracts, flexibility in meeting contemporary visitor wants and needs, increases in operating times and seasons, and expanding visitor services in many NPS units that are currently largely invisible to the public.

Mr. Crandall praised NPS for using the Centennial to invite all Americans to their national parks through the Find Your Park campaign, Every Kid in a Park initiative and more.  “But this invitation is just a first step.  We need to be prepared to deliver great experiences in these great places.  And that takes money and staff and facilities.  This is the challenge of the Centennial and beyond, and where we need the help of the Congress.” 

NPHA’s full testimony – including a letter advocating for a new source of funding through the federal gas tax called “Penny for Parks” – can be read and downloaded here.  The hearing was livestreamed and can be watched here.

House Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on NPS Centennial Act Discussion Draft

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing December 2 on a National Park Service Centennial Act discussion draft.  The draft – assembled under the leadership of Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) –  reflects the Congress’ strong desire for recreation enhancements on federal lands and new financial strategies beyond appropriations.  The legislation’s purpose statement makes this clear saying, “To prepare the National Park Service for its Centennial in 2016 and for a second century of promoting and protecting the natural, historic, and cultural resources of our National Parks for the enjoyment of present and future generations, and for other purposes.”  This latest hearing follows several hearings in both the House and Senate over the last few months where Members of Congress have expressed strong, bipartisan support for increasing visitor services that would attract more Americans to their Great Outdoors -- a wonderful opportunity for real progress during the 114th Congress.  A copy of the discussion draft can be found here, and the hearing can be watched here.

NPHA supplied testimony to the hearing which can be found here.

Congress Focuses on People In Parks

Park concessioners will make their voices heard on a number of extremely important issues this week.  The U.S. House of Representatives will hold two hearings directly focusing on concessioners and national parks Thursday, July 23.  Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) – chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Interior – is expected to open her hearing by lauding NPS for leading the way on public/private partnerships to serve the nation, with private dollars building much of the NPS visitor infrastructure beginning in the late 1800s.  Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) – chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands – is expected to open his hearing with a reference to plans to update FLREA (Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act) this fall, and including expanding the bill beyond fee authority to key other tools like the Centennial Challenge and NAFI authority.

To find out more about the hearings, including how to watch them and where you can read testimony, click here.

Find Your Park

A park can be a place, a passion or a state of mind. People all around America are finding their park every day. So get up. Get out there. Find your park. It might be closer than you think. Learn more at http://findyourpark.com.

Find Your Park Toolkit Available

The National Park Foundation has just released a letter announcing that on April 2, 2015, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation will officially launch Find Your Park – a nationwide public engagement campaign to celebrate the second century of America’s national parks.  The letter also requests help from the parks community in spreading the Find Your Park message and provides a link to an expanded Toolkit containing displays, a media package, campaign plans, information on Centennial Premier level partners, and much more.   The toolkit is available in the "Tools" section at http://www.nextcenturyforparks.com.​ 

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

Partners in Parks - United for America

"Partners in Parks - United for America" describes the historic role played by concessioners in national parks - protecting the parks and serving their visitors for more than 100 years. This informative video also covers the key challenges facing America's national parks today and the role parks concessioners can play in keeping the American people connected to their parks.

Explore America

Explore America was produced by the National Parks Promotion Council to inspire interest in visiting America's National Parks. Longer, half-hour and hour versions of the video produced for the U.S. Travel Association's International Pow Wow and the U.S. Department of State. Special thanks is given to Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Finley Holiday Films, the NPS and many states, gateway communities and national park-related businesses who contributed still and motion images.

Marketing Parks and The Great Outdoors To All Americans - and More International Visitors, Too!

The National Park concessioner community has wrapped up its 2014 Fall Meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C.

The main thrust of the Fall Meeting was Tuesday's marketing session, titled: Marketing Parks and The Great Outdoors to All Americans - and More International Visitors, Too!  This meeting featured heavyweights from around the travel and tourism community discussing key topics that will affect visitation in America's Great Outdoors such as Why the Great Outdoors Sells to Today's TravellersMillennials and the Outdoors and Fortifying the Outdoor Legacy for Latino Americans.

The meeting was livestreamed, and full video of the session is available and begins at 7:40 here:

To download the packet featuring speaker and responder bios, as well supplemental information on organizations participating in this session, click here.

National Park Service Announces Nine Free Admission Days in 2015

The National Park Service is inviting visitors to discover something new in a park with free admission on nine days in 2015! Those nine days are:

- January 19: Martin Luther King Jr.
- February 14-16: President's Day Weekend
- April 18 & 19: National Park Week's opening weekend
- August 25: National Park Service's 99th Birthday
- September 26: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day

These are great opportunities for Americans to get out and enjoy fun, healthy activities in their National Parks!

NPHA Welcomes Three New Members as Preferred Vendors

The National Park Hospitality Association is very pleased to welcome Thompson & Little, Inc., Dowdle Folk Art and Old Hickory Furniture Company as the organization’s newest members. Each will be a Preferred Vendor, recognizing commitment to providing high levels of quality in goods and services and support for the association’s mission of offering park visitors great experiences in great places.

“NPHA is excited to welcome these three new members,” said NPHA Vice Chairman and chair of NPHA’s Membership Committee Alex Klein. “We look forward to their contributions at our upcoming meeting this month and beyond as we work collectively to prepare for the next century of the National Park Service.”

To read more, click here.

2014 NPHA Fall Meeting

The National Park concessioner community faces a critical time as its members gather from across the country in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) 2014 Fall Meeting October 20-22.

The meeting – titled Supporting America’s National Parks For The Next 100 Years – will give park concessioners the opportunity to become more actively engaged with the Park Service and the Travel and Tourism community and forge action strategies to help engage millennials, more diverse populations and international visitors.

The centerpiece of the meeting will be a fast-paced and exciting 90-minute presentation in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s South Building on Tuesday, October 21. The presentation is titled: Marketing Parks and the Great Outdoors to All Americans – and More International Visitors Too! Innovators from around the travel and tourism industry will give three eight minute TED-style presentations. Each of the presentations will be followed by 20 minutes of discussion by a panel of industry leaders.

The three topics that will be discussed are: Why the Great Outdoors Sells to Today's TravellersMillennials and the Outdoors and Fortifying the Outdoor Legacy for Latino Americans.

Join us this October as we explore exciting new opportunities for park concessioners.  We think you’ll like what you see.

For More information, including registration rates and deadlines, meeting agenda and meeting overview, click here.

Outdoor Champions of Color Call For Clearer Invitation and Better Front-Country Visitor Services

Washington, D.C. (June 19, 2014) -- “Hosting All Americans in Their Great Outdoors” was the theme that sparked the most passionate and inspired discussions at Partners Outdoors 2014, held this year at the U.S. Department of the Interior during Great Outdoors Month. The discussions were designed to move well beyond recognition that federal recreation sites receive low levels of visits from Americans of color and focus how barriers could be eliminated and greater visitation encouraged.

The day included presentations from panelists Culture ONE World Founder Carlos Alcazar, author Audrey Peterman and Greening Youth Foundation Founder Angelou Ezeilo.   

To read the full press release, click here.

Park Concessioners Address Park Service Centennial and Expanded Visitor Services During Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2014) -- The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) met with leadership of the National Park Service and key allied organizations during a snowy March week to discuss ways to attract more visitors to national parks and assure that visitors have great experiences during those visits. Park visitation was down in 2013 but NPHA and a wide array of park interests outlined important initiatives underway which will redefine national parks and attract more visitors – including younger, more urban and more diverse visitors.

Highlights of the meeting included:
● Reports on a pilot effort in Shenandoah National Park now underway to restore a historic structure under a partnership involving the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Corps Network, Delaware North Companies and the National Park Service (NPS). Eight conservation corps members, mentored by skilled restoration architects and craftsman, are rehabilitating a visitor facility at sharply lowered costs than with normal contracting and with many important serendipities, including new skills attained by the youth.
● Discussions about new strategies to enhance national park interpretation and education programs, including active involvement by concessioners. NPHA has a representative on a new advisory body aiding NPS Associate Director Julia Washburn in the development of a new interpretation and education business plan.
● An update on the NPHA RentMyTent program being developed in cooperation with The Coleman Company which will allow thousands of visitors to camp in national parks beginning this summer using tents and other camping equipment reserved through NPHA members.
● A review of efforts underway to expand cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in visitor services areas of national parks.
● In-depth conversations with NPS Director Jon Jarvis addressing the challenges of 2013, including Sequestration and Shutdowns, and the important opportunities ahead to continue the essential role of concessioners in serving visitor needs in national parks long into the next century of NPS operations.
● A presentation on the exciting efforts underway by Brand USA, the Congressionally-chartered corporation charged with increasing international visitation to the USA. Brand USA is sponsoring an IMAX film which will celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service and is also using America’s Great Outdoors as its overall promotion focus for the next two years.
● An update on the NPS and National Park Foundation (NPF) efforts to use the 2016 Centennial of the NPS to build awareness of, connection to and actions on behalf of America’s national parks. Grey of New York is leading development of a comprehensive campaign using the overall theme of Find Your Park, and involving targeting of Millennials for special invitations to connect with parks.
● A conversation with NPF President Neil Mulholland about cooperative efforts on the Grey campaign, on the guest donations program and on a new undertaking to define private investment strategies in national parks under the leadership of the Urban Land Institute.
● A review of key legal issues involving the October Shutdown and the 1998 Concessions Act, including recent court actions; and
● A conversation with key park partners including leaders from the National Parks Conservation Association, the Association of Partners for Public Lands, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, NatureBridge and health and Latino partners.

NPHA’s board elected Terry MacRae as Chairman and added Alex Klein as a new Vice Chairman of the organization. Mr. MacRae is CEO of Hornblower Cruises and Events, serving visitors to park sites in San Francisco and New York City. He has led NPHA efforts in the marketing field. Mr. Klein is Vice President and General Manager of Grand Teton Lodge Company and Flagg Ranch Company, both in Wyoming.  

   glacier park

"Every opportunity should be afforded the public, wherever possible, to enjoy the national parks in the manner that best satisfies the individual taste."
Franklin K. Lane

Secretary of the Interior's Letter on National Park Management to
National Park Service Director Stephen Mather
May 13, 1918


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