Yosemite, CA – Mother Lode Congressman Tom McClintock criticized the National Park Services (NPS) proposal to raise fees at Yosemite National Park, arguing that it does not make much sense in a stagnant economy. As reported yesterday, the proposal calls for entrance and campground fee hikes at the park that would include a $10 gate hike from $20 to $30 per car. Yosemite’s fees have not changed since 1997, and park officials say the increase is needed to catch up with inflation.
Here is Congressman McClintock’s full statement issued today:
Last year, Yosemite Park management sought to drastically reduce the park’s amenities that attract visitors and generate revenues. This year, it seeks to increase admission fees on those same visitors by 50 percent.
Raising fees in a stagnant economy makes as much sense as a shopkeeper raising prices in a sales slump. Contrary to assertions by park managers, tourists don’t go where they’re not welcomed, and the national parks compete for tourism with a vast array of other destinations. The National Park Service has apparently not conducted any economic study of the impact of this proposal on park visitation, but simply asserts that attendance is not dependent on price. Yet prices almost always impact demand, especially when consumers have a wide variety of other choices available to them.
I am sensitive to NPS attempts to recover costs from park users rather than general taxpayers, but the appropriate way to do so is to increase the recreational opportunities within the park that attract visitors – not to impose arbitrary fee increases that discourage them.
Today begins a thirty-day public comment period – ironically at the end of this year’s tourist season when opposition is likely to be muted. I believe that the National Park Service is making a huge mistake and urge them to reconsider.