Sightseeing Tours of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be affected by the new CUA requirements installed by the Department of the Interior beginning OCTOBER 1, 2019.
Beginning October 1, 2019, all commercial tours visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) will be required to have a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA). This will involve applying for the CUA from the GSMNP at a cost of $300 which is an annual fee. Also, at the end of the year, the company with the CUA will self-report to the GSMNP showing how many guests they had on their tours into the park and submitting a payment of $5.00 per person.
These are the basics as we understand it today and once the federal government shutdown is over, we will be working the National Park staff to fully understand the intricacies of the process and be able to properly communicate it to our guests.
Things to note:
- Each National Park will require a separate CUA (we primarily deal with the GSMNP)
- As we understand it, even though we have a CUA, our Tour Operator clients will have to have one as well
- Once the government re-opens, we will know which, if not all entities have to pay the $5pp fee
- Coach companies may also have to have a CUA
- There is no entry fee into the Great Smoky Mountains, but the CUA fees are different
- After October 1, 2019, National Park Rangers will pull over coaches and ticket those not in compliance
Tennessee Express Tours, ABA and other organizations are working to understand the details and lobbying for our clients and guests. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or insight into this process. We are working on a learning curve with a pretty short window.