As states with large national parks continue to bleed tourist dollars, many are looking at re-opening the parks themselves.
On Tuesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the state will commit nearly a quarter of a million dollars to re-open the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday. Blount and Sevier Counties will contribute an additional $60,000. However, the money will run out quickly and the deal only guarantees the park will be open through Sunday.
Meanwhile, a bill introduced in the US Senate by Lamar Alexander and in the House of Representatives by Jimmy Duncan and Phil Roe, would require the federal government to reimburse states that re-open their parks within 90 days.
Recent estimates suggest the closure of the Smoky Mountains Park is costing the regional economy as much as $2 million per day. The park has been closed since October 1, the result of a partial government shutdown that has frozen federal agencies, parks and operations from coast-to-coast.
GSMNP is the nation’s most visited park, with approximately nine million tourists each year. October is considered one of the most lucrative months for businesses surrounding the park as visitors come to witness the annual change of colors.