As you may know, all 401 of the country’s national parks now open, having been casualties of the government shutdown. Travelers had to spend 16 days without the likes of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and more.
Obviously, that shutdown came at a price. According to the National Park Foundation, an estimated 11.4 million visitors were unable to pass the barricades set up around the parks, which led to significant monetary losses. What’s gone is gone and certain areas are trying to regroup. Now it seems, more than ever, they need tourists to make up those lost days.
Take for instance the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. They are a huge attraction, even for Global Discovery Vacations members, but since the shutdown on Oct. 1, the Great Smoky Mountains Association has lost more than $555,000 in revenue. The GSMA provided $1.9 million to the park in 2012 for research programs, tours and other park-related activities. That number will now lower tremendously.
Having lost so much revenue in October, one of the park’s busiest months because of leaf-color changing, it limits the amount of help the organization can provide the park. Luckily, specialty Tennessee license plates are helping to offset losses in retail sales, but it will take a lot more for the park to get back to full strength.
Larger areas such as the Grand Canyon saw Arizona businesses losing $200,000 per day and many employees lost their jobs. No matter which angle you look at, the government shutdown hurt – everyone.
The best news to come of all this is that visitors have been sightseeing in droves since the reopening. And if the parks are going to fully recover from the unfortunate circumstances, it starts with you the traveler.