California National Parks Parks and Monuments Utah

Impact of closed National Parks on hotel industry

The National Parks closure across the USA has impacted my travel plans. I had planned to visit Sequoia National Park this week and Muir Woods National Monument next week. My plans have shifted to California State Parks tourism. There is some big money being lost with the federal government shutdown in lost tourism dollars.

The estimates are $76 million dollars per day are being lost in tourism spending as 715,000 visitors per day are locked out of National Parks. This works out to $450,000 daily in money that would have gone directly to funding National Parks.

The National Mall in Washington D.C. has only seven workers out of 300 employees still reporting for work. You may wonder why there is a need to close the outdoor spaces of the National Parks.

  • Safety
  • Vandalism

A crazy woman splashed green paint on the Lincoln Memorial in July 2013. An article from, Why Can’t Visitors Walk in Open Air Parks?, asks readers if they think it would be wise to leave a museum with treasures open while no staff are around to watch the visitors.

Utah and Colorado have decided to fund the reopening of their National Parks and Monuments during the federal government shutdown. California, Montana and Wyoming say there is insufficient funding in their state budgets to keep parks open, even if the feds reimburse the states at a later date.

Natural Bridges NM 021110 IMG_3442

Southern Utah is one of the best locations in the USA for watching the night sky. Photo courtesy of Monticello, Utah Tourism. Rural towns like Monticello with proximity to Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado rely on tourism dollars for a significant portion of the region’s economy.

National Parks Closure Impact on Hotels

Xanterra, Aramark and Forever Resorts are three hotel companies operating hotels within National Parks.

Xanterra runs 21 hotels in National Parks like Death Valley, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Zion and the Grand Canyon. The hotel company is losing $1 million dollars a day according to a company spokesperson.


Zion Lodge inside Zion National Park is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

My visits to all five National Parks in Utah last May revealed to me that a large portion of tourists are international visitors who have planned their USA vacations around the National Parks. I heard more people speaking French and German than English during the time I stayed in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

The impacts ripple well beyond Washington, D.C. and past U.S. borders. Others from around the world are watching this circus, which is embarrassing at best. Just like in each of the last few years, we are confronted with a failure of our political leadership that threatens an economy that wants to turn the corner to higher growth and employment.

Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, posted to LinkedIn

Jan Freitag, senior VP of global development at STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, said the longer the shutdown drags on the more potential for impact on hotel performance. “There’s indirect impact,” he said. “A guy who’s driving a tour bus to and from the Smoky Mountains has less work, and those guys now can’t go on vacation. Those are things we won’t see in the weekly or monthly numbers.” News Source: Hotel News Now – Hoteliers feeling effects of U.S. Shutdown. (October 8, 2013).

With millions of U.S. workers losing income from the federal government shutdown, the effects will ripple through the economy from canceled vacations and less holiday shopping spend this season and for the year to come.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out my page of collated current hotel promotions.

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  • jim October 11, 2013

    Ask King Obama to open everything. National Mall was shut down , still is for World war 2 vets & American citizens but he opened it up for foreign criminal illegal invaders who staged a rally demanding AMNESTY.

    It is such a shame!

  • Robert October 11, 2013

    Obviously you’ve never walked down the national mall if you think it needs supervision to stay open.

  • Alohadavekennedy October 11, 2013

    Quit your complaining! If the National Parks are closed just visit the Congressional gyms. Seems Pelosi needs her Pilates.

  • Dave October 11, 2013

    Tell boehner to call a vote. They have the votes to reopen the government but boehner is bowing to a radical faction of the house and not allowing the vote.

  • msmcmotown October 11, 2013

    Ric: Thanks for the thoughtful post full of information. I, too, had plans to visit federal parks in CA this long weekend, at the end of a business trip, but have switched to state areas. (Hiking in Big Sur is not a bad consolation prize!)

    Of course, the facts you recite regarding the economic impact of the shutdown on tourism don’t mean anything to the extortionists who still support it. Lets hope they’re road kill when this is over.

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