Utah National Parks’ reopening restarts touri$m

Utah's national parks are reopening during the government shutdown, restarting an economic engine in tourism-dependent towns such as Moab. Image by Lisa M. Collard.

MOAB, Utah – The reopening of national parks in Utah during the federal government shutdown is helping to boost economies in Moab and other communities economically dependent upon tourism.

The state is paying to keep Canyonlands National Park near Moab and other national parks open during the ongoing government shutdown.

Rex Tanner, who owns the Blu Pig restaurant and bar in Moab, says his business lost thousands of dollars before the parks reopened late last week.

“It lasted 10 days.” He says. “I believe it cost me 15,000 thousand for the first 10 days.”

Tanner estimates that Moab lost millions of dollars in tourism revenue during the government shutdown. He says about 80 percent of the local economy is dependent upon tourism.

Tanner adds the shutdown shows that politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington have lost touch with the needs of their constituents.

“I’m so disgusted with it,” he says. “And it doesn’t matter where you’re at politically in terms of Democrats or Republicans. I mean, the whole – the whole group of them – as far as I’m concerned, they’ve just lost their whole focus on why they’re there and who they’re representing.”

Gov. Gary Herbert called a special Legislative session for Wednesday to consider ongoing state funding to keep the parks open, should the government shutdown continue.

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