Ben Patel, general manager at the Pioneer Lodge in Springdale, said occupancy rates that would have been 80 to 90 percent dipped to 20 to 30 percent during the shutdown as cancellations flooded in, He said he was considering letting some employees go if the shutdown continued one more week.
The reopening will likely lead to more visits from people in the United States, but it probably won't bring back foreign visitors who planned to visit Zion and have already cancelled.
"The damage is done," Patel said. "I don't see them coming back. It's almost the end of the season."
More than 400 national parks, recreation areas and monuments have been closed since Oct. 1 due to the partial government shutdown. Utah was the first state to take the Obama administration up on its offer to reopen national parks.
U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced legislation that would reimburse states for the costs of reopening and operating the parks within 90 days. Utah's four U.S. representatives — Democrat Jim Matheson and Republicans Jason Chaffetz, Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop — all signed on as co-sponsors.
Utah state officials focused on reopening the most heavily visited parks, leaving some other federally managed monuments and parks closed, said Jay Kinghorn, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Tourism. For instance, Hovenweep, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Dinosaur national monuments remained closed. Timpanogos Cave already closed for the season, he said.
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