Starting May 16, the National Park Service will ban
commercial guided tours at the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the Statue of
Liberty Museum and the National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island.
NPS said it will implement the ban because a proliferation
of guided tours in recent years has created gridlock at the Statue of Liberty and
Ellis Island. NPS partner Statue Cruises said roughly 250,000
passengers took commercial tours in 2018, a sixfold increase from a decade ago,
reported the New York Times.
Even though roughly 4% of Statue of Liberty visitors
arrive with a tour group (most tourists go on their own), the tour groups cause
a disproportionate number of problems, the NPS told the Times. The NPS said tour groups crowd
doorways and exhibits and obstruct traffic flow, and that tour guides have been
known to talk too loudly and get into altercations with other tour leaders.
The Guides Association of New York City is vehemently
against the new rule, saying it will result in lost jobs and "negatively
impact the visitor experience." The guides association maintains that the NPS
does not have sufficient personnel to manage the throng of visitors to the
State of Liberty and Ellis Island on the busiest days, when up to 25,000 people
Further, the association said NPS overreacted to a
"minor problem," saying that the implementation of a tour guide code
of conduct would suffice.