Grand Canyon

Grand Canyons Possibly Cutting Educational Programs

The Grand Canyon National Park is a huge American landmark, attracting upwards of four million visitors a year. These visitors come for the beautiful scenery, untouched wilderness, the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and the massive national park that calls all of this home, but facilitating the convenience and comfort many visitors enjoy are the vendor companies responsible for amenities like Grand Canyon lodging, merchandising, and restaurants. Other services include upkeep of the park and its historic landmarks and properties, so it’s obvious how important these vendors are to the park and its millions of guests.

Due to a law passed in the 1990s, however, the vendor responsible for all of these services cannot remain the same for more than 10 years at a time. Every 10 years, officials of the Grand Canyon National Park have a bidding process, deliberating which company to hire on after another company’s 10 year stay is up.

It seems like a dream contract, doesn’t it? Most businesses might clamor to be the official vendor of the Grand Canyon National Park, but due to a looming vendor debt, officials at the Grand Canyon National Park are actually having difficulty luring in potential candidates. This is no trivial debt, as the park currently owes its concessionaire approximately $157 million for various services. Even the cost of doing business in the canyon has to be accounted for, and unfortunately, the park has been unable to settle this debt.

Why would this effect prospective vendors? Simply put, if a new vendor were to win the bid for the Grand Canyon’s concessions contract, they wouldn’t just receive the business of the park’s visitors – they’d also be forced by federal law to assume the entirety of that $157 million debt.

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With so few vendors competing for the park’s visitors, officials of the park are working to reduce the debt, but unfortunately, the money will have to come from somewhere. Much of the debt will hopefully be resolved through a $75 million loan from other American national parks, but that’s only nearly half of what the park needs to erase the debt. To reduce the rest of their arrears, they’ll be cutting back on certain programs, possibly including educational programs around the park.

Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association made a statement on the debt, saying, “The devil is in the details. When you look at this in the abstract and you’re sort of saying, ‘Well, gosh, you’re going to cut services and you’re going to have to reduce the number of employees already operating below the margin. How can you think that’s a good thing?’ I don’t think it’s a good thing. But it’s a real serious problem, and one that only is growing and has to be addressed.”

Vendors hoping to be chosen must submit their bids by October 8th. The final decision will be announced by the end of the year.