National Park Hospitality Association
Through the vision shared by many great people in our nation's history, such as Theodore Roosevelt, whose legacy is carved in stone, our national park system is a model envied by all and copied by many. Early park supporters, such as Stephen Mather, first Director of the National Park Service (NPS), and Horace Albright, a crusader to the establishment of a national park bureau, emphasized the value of parks as sources of awe-inspiring wonder for those who visit and stand before nature's treasures.
Mather and Albright were convinced that visitors must be attracted and accommodated if the parks were to flourish. To accomplish this, they concluded that automobiles should be allowed throughout the park system, hotels should be provided by private operators, and educational activities should be encouraged to share the magic and mysteries of these places. While it is imperative that the parks be preserved for future generations, Mather and Albright rightly foresaw that the land could and should be responsibly used to accommodate and serve visitors.
From its establishment, the NPS has been challenged to follow Mather's and Albright's lead: “Conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The National Park Hospitality Association's mission statement supports this vision:
“The NPHA is committed to fostering active partnerships with the public and the government for the joint purpose of (i) preserving and protecting park resources, and (ii) accommodating visitor access to and enjoyment in our National Parks.”
As an association of national park concessioners, our specific goals are to:
- Build bridges of cooperation and shared rights with the Department of the Interior and the NPS at all levels of management
- Secure the active support of park visitors for protection of park resources, for provision of adequate visitor accommodations and service, and for continued park access for all people
- Continue effective liaison with Congress regarding relevant park legislation and regulations
- Assist the NPS with educational and interpretive programs for visitors, teaching about the wonders and history of the park and about stewardship responsibilities
Parks should be accessible to everyone
Members of the National Park Hospitality Association are committed to preserving access to all National Parks for all people. Not everybody can don a backpack and trek across the wilderness. But with responsible management of the parks, and services provided in them, everyone can come and experience the wonder and joy of these “wild” places. From the mysterious enigmas of ancestral Pueblans, to the powerful serenity of national battlefields, to the geologic wonders of Yellowstone's ecosystem, these places are our links to the past as well as our windows to the future.
Visitors' enjoyment is our motivation
oday our parks are more than just a quick vacation stop on the way to somewhere else. Visitors can enjoy accommodations ranging from primitive campgrounds, to rustic cabins, to luxurious and famous hotels. NPHA members provide many conveniences to make the experiences more enjoyable, such as transportation to final destinations and restaurants throughout the system. Concessioners offer diverse educational and recreational activities including narrated motor coach tours, old west cookouts, off-road vehicle adventures, mule rides, boat tours, houseboat rentals and river rafting, among others.
The members of NPHA know that they live and work in special places and take seriously their opportunities (and responsibilities) to share these resources through services to the park visitors. As Theodore Roosevelt one said: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” The work of accommodating visitors and helping to preserve the parks' resources are enterprises shared by the concessioners and the NPS.
Public/private partnership is the way to get things done
The NPS has been entrusted to preserve our parks for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of current and future generations. As private, for profit entities, NPHA members are motivated to provide quality services, lodging, food and beverages, and recreational activities for visitors. These public and private interests come together to give the parks' visitors truly memorable experiences.
One example of this effective partnership has been the highly successful construction, repair and rehabilitation of historic facilities enjoyed by the public. Funds raised through fees and private capital investment are used to reconstruct buildings that preserve our heritage, while at the same time providing accommodations to current visitors. The NPS and concessioners work together to make this happen. This relationship also decreases the parks' reliance on Congressional appropriations, freeing up funds to be allocated to other needs.
Stewards of the Environment
We believe the park units should be preserved for visitors, not for the sake of preservation alone. You need only remember the feeling engendered when you fist gazed into the expanse of the Grand Canyon, or marched in a soldier's footsteps across the now quiet battlefields of Gettysburg, to recognize the value our national parks have to each one of us. Our park system enables people to go where they have never been and to be inspired to move on to greater heights.
While accommodating visitors, the national parks must be preserved. This can only be accomplished if we all meet our stewardship responsibilities. Members of the NPHA are doing their part by implementing aggressive environmental initiatives—ranging from recycling waste to purchasing environment-friendly cleaning supplies to challenging and rewarding employees for developing innovative practices and policies.