Dem proposes park fee holiday to counter shutdown

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Wednesday proposed legislation to suspend the collection of entrance fees at national parks, to help promote tourism after the government shutdown led to reduced crowds across the country.

Kaine said national parks lost nearly a half a billion dollars in spending from visitors during the 16-day shutdown in early October. He said Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway lost nearly 1 million visitors, and Shenandoah National Park lost 122,000 visitors, losses that led to $30 million in reduced spending in his home state.

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To remedy that, Kaine proposed waiving park fees for 16 days, starting next year on April 10 and ending on April 25 during National Park Week.

"The small businesses that rely on tourist revenue did not receive back pay for being caught in the middle of Washington budget battles," Kaine said. "This bill is a small achievable way that Congress can help these communities regain some of the business that was lost during the government shutdown and encourage more Americans to visit our beautiful public lands."

Kaine said the 16-day fee holiday would both encourage visitors to see the parks and give nearby businesses a chance to publicize the holiday and drum up business.