National Park Service Fee Increases and Commercial Use Authorizations

Issue

The National Park Service (NPS) unveiled a proposal in October 2017 that will considerably increase the fees charged to a variety of motorcoach and group tour visitors to national parks. According to a statement by the NPS, the primary purpose of this price increase is to generate revenue to help address their maintenance backlog, which is currently upwards of $12 billion.

NPS manages all national parks, many national monuments and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations, with more than 417 properties in total.

Of primary interest to ABA and the motorocoach, tour and travel industry, the NPS is proposing entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators using motorcoaches. The proposal would increase the entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements for road-based commercial tours (e.g. motorcoaches), including application and management fees across the parks.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, all parks will charge commercial tour fees made up of three components: the CUA application fee, a CUA management fee and an entrance fee. Click here to view the commercial tour proposal.

The CUA application fee will be an annual fee of $300 per year, some parks will grant a two-year application fee. This will be mandatory for all NPS units.

The CUA management fee is a $5 per passenger fee. This fee is to be paid on an annual basis and will also require the filling of an annual report to the NPS. Click here to view a copy of the required annual report.

The entrance fee is where the most drastic change will be. Groups will have to pay for their trip participants based on each park's per person entrance rate. For parks that have an entrance fee, the CUA management fee is included within the paid amount.
 

Background

In October 2017, the National Park Service (NPS), initially published its plan to drastically increase the entry fees and standardize the Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) permitting process at over 117 NPS locations, including national parks, monuments, historical and other sites. Over the past few months, NPS has been reviewing the comments that ABA and many of our members and the public submitted regarding the initial NPS plan.

On Friday, April 12, NPS announced that they would be increasing the entry fees by $5 for all parks that are currently collecting entrance fees. On April 19, NPS announced their plans for changes to the CUA fees and requirements for groups traveling to parks via motorcoach in a new proposal. This new CUA plan will take effect Oct. 1, 2019. However, future motorcoach entrance fees at parks are impacted by the April 12 announcement, so operators will need to pay attention to both the April 12 and April 19 announcements.