WASHINGTON -- America's national parks are taking center stage in a
new marketing campaign designed to encourage not only foreign but
domestic travelers to "See America's National Parks."
That tagline this year will be associated with a sweepstakes,
special travel packages and a microsite promoting the parks within
the Travel Industry Association's (TIA) Web site, www.seeamerica.org.
It also will appear in ads starting in the spring in USA Today
and the Sunday Times of London.
The campaign is the joint effort of the TIA, the National Park
Service and the National Park Foundation, which signed an agreement
to bolster visitation to America's 388 national parks and to
increase the sale of park passes.
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton outlined the program
during her keynote address at the TIA's 22nd Annual Travel &
Tourism Industry Unity Dinner here last week.
"It is a partnership that will bear fruit," she said.
Norton added that the Department of the Interior, the parent of
the National Park Service, also has agreements to work with the
Southeast Tourism Society and the Western States Tourism Policy
Council to encourage visits to national parks in those regions.
At the same time, an increased sale of park passes would help
boost revenues for the parks, which are suffering from a backlog of
$4.9 billion in repairs.
Norton said the Bush administration has earmarked $1 billion for
the parks in its 2005 federal budget proposal.
She said partnerships with tourism industry associations would
help encourage more domestic and inbound travelers to visit not
only well-known parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone but also
their lesser-known counterparts, which include historic sites,
battlefields, seashores and parkways.
"It will help us inform the public about the many magnificent
opportunities we have to offer," Norton said, while encouraging
tourism to the parks "for generations to come."
Along with announcing the "See America's National Parks"
campaign, the TIA released a study that shows nearly 40% of U.S.
adults had visited a national park in the past five years.
That resulted in some 87 million leisure person-trips, which are
measured as 50 miles or more one-way from home.
Based on data collected in 2002, the National Park Traveler
Study also found travelers cited experiencing nature (92%),
education (90%) and culture and history (89%) as the top reasons
for visiting national parks, along with spending time with their
The study also found that at least 38% of visitors to national
parks planned their trips on the Internet.
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].