Several US states have agreed terms to reopen national parks to continue generating income from tourism during the government shutdown.
Governors in New York, Utah, South Dakota and Arizona struck deals worth millions to reopen national parks with the US government despite the national shutdown.
The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Rocky Mountain and the Statue of Liberty were amongst the national parks to have reopened at the weekend.
Utah’s governor Gary Herbert reached a deal with the US Department of Interior to open the state’s five national parks on Saturday (12 October), as well as its national monuments and the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. This includes Zion, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks.
The state will pay up to US$1.67 million to reopen the sites for 10 days, accounting to US166, 572 a day.
“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Herbert said. “I commend Secretary Jewell for being open to Utah’s solution, and the world should know Utah is open for business and visitors are welcome.”
October is a peak month for tourism in Utah, generating US$100m during the month. Many hotels and businesses are now offering discounts and promotions to attract visitors.
All national parks and some attractions closed on 1 October when the US government failed to secure budget agreements.
Privately-owned attractions such as the West Rim of the Grand Canyon have seen visitor numbers increase as a result. The privately-owned West Rim of the park, which is property of the Hualapai Indian tribe, has taken on more staff and transportation to cope with the demand.
Grand Canyon West saw 8,000 people visit during the first six days of the shutdown, up 26% on usual figures.
The shutdown has caused several residents to not work since the closure, with BAE Systems becoming the first UK company to be affected. The air defence firm told its 1,200 US staff not to turn up to work today and has freezed pay.