In Spring 2018, Destination Gettysburg became aware of changes proposed to the fee structure paid by our local businesses who hold a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP). At that time, the Park was planning to implement a fee structure, beginning January 1, 2019, that would raise annual rates for these businesses who provide tours of the battlefield - on horseback, Segways, carriages, bicycles, etc. - from a $250 fee every two years to an annual application fee of $300 plus 3-5 percent of gross revenue. Percentages would be dependent on the amount of annual park-based revenue. We immediately reached out to our partners to determine what we could do to help them form a collective voice regarding what was sure to be damaging changes - for some it would be a 30,000 percent increase.
Over the course of the next several months, Destination Gettysburg met with these businesses to determine a more reasonable rate structure and roll out date. After meeting with local Park staff, we all agreed that the Park should receive more than the current collections, but not to the level that would be collected at the maximum allowable, which was the proposal. The group proposed a reduced structure of 1-1.6 percent of gross revenue.
GNMP followed up with the group with their updated decision. They would allow the 1-1.6 percent starting in October 2019, but that would only be in year one. By year three, they would be requiring the full 3-5 percent. Our local businesses currently provide a service to our visitors that the National Park cannot provide. These businesses assist the park rangers in sharing an accurate description of what happened on our hallowed grounds. If these rates come to fruition, we may not have these amazing experiences to offer our visitors.
The Gettysburg Times recently reported on this issue. The article, "Negative impact expected from NPS fee hike," discusses this issue and a secondary issue that will also impact our tourism industry.
In addition to raising rates on our local CUA holders, the National Park Service will roll out on October 1, 2019, a new fee structure for businesses bringing motor coach tours to any National Park site. Each operator will be required to pay a $300 annual application fee per park and $5/person for each visitor on their coach. This means our once free Park experience will require a fee for anyone traveling by motor coach - a segment that drives approximately 15,000 motor coaches annually to our destination. The same segment that helps fill our accommodations, restaurants, tours and attractions, and more.
We are asking our partners to help us share the word that these fees cannot become reality. Here are ways that you can help:
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