Bozeman, MT—A new report from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) examines how international visitors to our national parks could help provide the revenue needed to better care for our national treasures.
America’s national parks struggle to keep pace with their popularity
Despite increasing numbers of visitors, the National Park Service budget remains stagnant. Collectively, the park system needs an estimated $22 billion for overdue maintenance and repairs. A modest increase in the entry fee international visitors pay could generate additional revenue urgently needed by our parks.
Roughly 14 million people visit national park sites from other countries annually. If each international visitor to a U.S. national park paid a $25 surcharge, it could raise an estimated $330 million, nearly doubling recreation fee revenue for the park system.
How Overseas Visitors Can Help Steward Our National Parks offers useful comparisons between the U.S. model and those of other countries, as well as thoughtful recommendations for how to implement an international surcharge.
A widely used approach
Dozens of the world’s most high-profile national park systems charge overseas visitors more than locals. Adopting a surcharge for visitors from abroad at U.S. national parks could significantly increase revenue, providing parks with more funding to address maintenance and improve visitor experience.
Entry fees account for a small fraction of the total trip costs for international visitors to U.S. national parks, and existing research suggests that higher fees would have a negligible effect on park visitation from international travelers.
U.S. state land managers already implement a similar model by charging non-resident hunters and anglers more for hunting and fishing licenses than they charge in-state residents. Not applying the same standard to our national parks is a huge missed opportunity. Likewise, international visitors already pay less than U.S. citizens to enter a national park because they aren’t paying taxes that help fund the park system.
“By implementing a common-sense international surcharge for entry into our national parks, just as other nations do, we can better take care of America’s crown jewels,” said PERC CEO Brian Yablonski. “Doing so will provide the resources needed to effectively steward these important public lands for generations to come.”