Researchers at the University of Montana have found that the proposed hike in entrance fees to Yellowstone National Park will harm the economy of local gateway communities and decrease the number of visitors.
The National Park Service announced it is raising entrance fees to 17 popular national parks, including Yellowstone National Park. Officials are suggesting increasing the seven day car pass from $30 to $70 during May through September, the park’s most popular months.
A study by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research found the $40 increase will deter local residents from visiting the park.
“That $40 increase roughly represents a 38 percent increase in their travel cost,” said Jeremy Sage, the lead researcher of the study. “If you think about travel cost being how much to get into the park plus the fuel that takes to get to the park and back.”
Sage said it will also negatively impact the economies of the communities surrounding the park.
“Really what it means is that we have fewer visitors coming to the park,” said Sage. “And likely fewer visitors spending money in these communities and that results in upwards to 3 to 4 million dollars in annual spending losses in these local gate way regions.”
Visitors from further away won’t feel such a big impact since it’s not as big a percentage of their total travel cost. The study also included that most national parks around the world tend to have differentiated fees. Local residents pay lower fees while the international fees are higher. The public can comment on the parks proposed fee hikes on their website until December 22.