Today’s U.S. National Park Service (NPS) lacks business savvy, from trying to micro-manage businesses in the parks to being slow to respond to visitor desires and services, a congressional subcommittee was told by business leaders whose companies operate in the national park system, as reported by National Parks Traveler.

Concessioners told the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands that changing business practices and asking park visitors to pay more for services will help reduce the NPS’s $11.5 billion maintenance backlog while providing visitors a better experience.

“The visitor services we provide in national parks are often inhibited by NPS policies which limit visitor experiences and reduce our payments, called franchise fees, to the agency,” Derrick Crandall, counselor to the National Park Hospitality Association, told the subcommittee chaired by Rep. Tom McClintock of California.

“We are confident that increases in visitor services, including lengthening operating hours at units like Alcatraz and Statue of Liberty, adding appropriate services and allowing dynamic pricing of services, could increase franchise fees to the NPS by 50% within three years,” Crandall added.

The hearing was one of two last week that examined how the NPS does business. The other, held an hour earlier, delved into contracts the NPS utilizes in managing its lodging, dining, and other visitor services.

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