National Parks Drop Entrance Fee to Boost Tourism

In the world of tourism, desperate times call for nominally desperate measures

More than 100 National parks, including some in Florida, will drop admission fees for three summer weekends, paving the way for what officials hope will be a mass tourism rush to the struggling parks.

Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park are among those that will waive their fees for visitors on June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16. Usually, the $5 entrance fee to Dry Tortugas would be the least of a tourist's concerns, considering the drive to Key West and the 70 mile ferry ride just to get to the park. But every little bit counts, right?

"During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who took an air boat ride in the Everglades last week and wrestled with a giant python. Maybe that's when he had the idea for the free weekends.

If waiving nominal fees is all it takes to boost tourism, then what have we been waiting for? And the discounts don't just start at the entrance gate. If you spend the money to travel to the Grand Canyon, you'll get a Tusayan Shuttle Bus ride on the house. Now that's an enticing incentive.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of any of these discounts, check it out here. The waiver applies only to entrance fees and does not affect charges for camping, reservations, tours or concessions - basically the most expensive stuff.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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