Concessions provide visitors’ needs in parks

The National Park Service system includes a very large group of parks that show our nation’s beauty.

But just how beautiful is it when a person smells Starbucks coffee, instead of the fresh mountain air?

Presidio of San Francisco, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, has a Starbucks right inside the park.

Click on the video at right to see an audio slide show about commercialization of national parks prepared and narrated by writer Eric Hahn.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area spokesman Mike Feinstein said that it is not a typical national park.

“The park has different regulation because it is a self-sufficient park,” Feinstein said. “They have to find ways to make money, so they are using the buildings the Army left there.”

Almost all parks provide concessions for visitors within the park.

Jeffrey Olson, a spokesperson for the National Park Service’s Washington Region, said that the National Park Service isn’t picky about who provides concessions for the parks.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a short distance from the Presidio of San Francisco and the park offers this popular view of the world-famous bridge (Photo by Will Elder, courtesy of the National Park Service).  Next, the Presidio rests on the edge of San Francisco Bay. Last, the rocky San Francisco Bay shoreline near the Presidio (Photos courtesy of the National Park Service).

“Within national parks, we’ve always contracted companies to provide things that visitors require,” Olson said.  “So we provide our visitors with places for things such as food, gas and lodging. “We are very open with our concession agreements.”

The communities near, but outside, the national parks offer visitors many different concession options as well.

Nancy Gray, a spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee and North Carolina, said that this was part of the park’s plan.

“The park was first created in order to generate tourism and produce economic benefits to the area,” Gray said. “It was decided that the services and amenities would be provided outside the park.”

Gray said that since most people living outside the park are local business owners or employees, they are not too upset despite the fact that there are many options for visitors outside the park.

“People realize that visitors have different needs and wants,” Gray said. “Visitors are different and there are different ways of attracting visitors.

There are towns that now have their own tourist attractions outside the park.”

Despite the fact that the Presidio of San Francisco is considered a separate entity, it still follows the same rules on advertising that other parks do.

“The park has kept things low key,” Feinstein said. “They don’t plaster signs in San Francisco to come to Starbucks in the Presidio.  That wasn’t what the Starbucks was intended for.”

Feinstein said that the Starbucks is meant for a select group of people.

“The whole community is run by the (George) Lucas group,” Feinstein said. “The Starbucks was put in to give the people who work there somewhere to go to get something to eat.”

Because there is no advertising for businesses within the park,  park workers are quite careful with signs.

“We have to make sure we check before we even hang signs about donors,” Gray said. “There are very strict regulations on that as well.”

The National Park Service does not allow advertising within the parks and spokesman Jeffrey Olson says it will never happen.

“The only thing you will see hanging in our parks are brown signs,” Olson said. “There will never be advertising within the parks.”

Comments are Closed