AS SUMMER TRAVEL trends have shown increased interest in destinations near outdoor attractions, a new law will support national parks. The Great American Outdoors Act will fund payments on the deferred maintenance backlog in National Park Service sites and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
After President Trump signed the bill into law, Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed a proclamation designating Aug. 4 “Great American Outdoors Day,” on which park admission will be free.
“The national parks started as a bold, forward-thinking idea to preserve and protect America’s rapidly shrinking wilderness. And here we are today, more than 100 years later, carrying on the worthy mission of the national parks so Americans will always know the history and natural beauty of our great country,” said Will Brown, senior director of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association in a statement. “The funding provided by the Great American Outdoors Act will ensure access for generations to come and meet the growing demands of parks and recreation travelers.”
Visits to national parks are on the rise as people seek healthy ways to escape the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new national park visitation trends tracker from USTA, Rove Marketing and Uber Media. An Aug. 3 Destination Analysts study also found that, among those traveling in 2020, nearly 23 percent plan to visit a national park, and recent STR data also showed that occupancy has steadily increased in rural, drive-to markets.
In an otherwise tough year for the travel and tourism industry, this is an undeniable bright spot,” Brown said. “The signing of this bill will go a long way in ensuring a more prosperous, sustainable future for our country’s beautiful public lands—and it could not have come at a better time.”