LEXINGTON, Ky. --
Negotiations between the National Tour Association (NTA) and the
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) over tour operator
access to Alcatraz were encouraging according to both sides.
NTA president Hank
Phillips said NTAs purpose was to more fully understand [GGNRAs]
issues and to work together to find solutions short of cutting off
ticket sales to the travel industry. The GGNRAs chief of public
affairs Richard Weideman said he wanted the same thing.
We are completely open to
solutions, Weideman said. We have developed a strong relationship
with the tourism community over the last 15 years and we dont want
to alienate a constituency that brings so many people to the park.
I would rather work with someone who brings 20 to 40 people on a
bus than to have 15 to 20 cars in the parking lot.
said, the U.S. Attorneys office, and the legal department of Blue
& Gold Fleet, which is the concession operator of Alcatraz,
warned that the agency and the concession were at risk of
litigation over whether the system for distributing tickets is fair
receives 1.3 million visitors a year, is pushed to absolute maximum
capacity, as demand soars while the capacity is fixed, Weideman
said. There are many different kinds of packagers and resellers
competing for the tickets, some totally legitimate, some less so.
One result is that the average price people pay for the $16 ticket
is $51 to $59.
Another problem is
that as some wholesalers have grown and merged, their demand for
tickets has increased to the point that the agency cannot
They [the lawyers]
told us we should stop the system in 30 days, Weideman said. That
was in the middle of summer when we are moving 5,300 people a day
Short of a solution,
the agency agreed to cut off the ticket sales Jan. 1, when current
contracts expire. But if a solution to the distribution system can
be found, Weideman said GGNRA will use it.
Weideman, an active
industry participant who regularly attends the Travel Industry
Associations Pow Wow and other industry events, said, I have talked
to my friends in the travel industry and I told them, Put your mind
to it. If someone finds a solution, or reinvents a solution that
has been used somewhere else, its a win for the agency. Im
cautiously optimistic. The industry is very creative. If theres a
solution, well find it.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].