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Contact: Bob Dodson, 843-883-3123 x 14
(Sullivan’s Island, SC) The National Park Service today announced that it has awarded the new contract for ferry service to Fort Sumter National Monument. The incumbent concessioner, Fort Sumter Tours, Inc., has been chosen for the new ten-year contract scheduled to begin on January 1, 2007.
“After a rigorous selection process Fort Sumter Tours, Inc. was chosen as the best company to provide the ferry service,” said Fort Sumter National Monument Superintendent Bob Dodson. “They know our operation and are experienced in serving park visitors. I am confident that Fort Sumter Tours will continue to provide our annual 280,000 visitors with the best ferry experience possible.”
The selection was made according to the provisions of the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act, which made a number of changes in how concession contracts are awarded and enhances competition for National Park Service (NPS) concession contracts. The call for proposals ended in December 2005. A panel made up of NPS and Public Health personnel with expertise in contracting, budget and concession services met initially in January in Atlanta. They analyzed the proposals and selected the best candidate based on criteria specified in the Act, completing the review and recommendation process in May. The panel did a great job to ensure that FortSumter visitors will receive value for their money.
Fort Sumter Tours, Inc. will make numerous physical changes to their Patriots Point facility to comply with the contract’s accessibility requirements. New accessible gangways are expected to allow better mobility for wheelchairs, allowing accessibility 90% of the time with the six foot tide change. Additionally, franchise fees increased from 12% to 12.5%. The current adult ticket price is $14.00. The park will collect the 12.5% franchise fee of gross revenues, expected to be $3.5 million in 2007. The fee will increase to 13% when gross revenues reach $4 million. Some of the projects and improvements made with current franchise fees include:
· Study the visitor impact on historic resources at Fort Sumter
· Repair video security systems
· Replace museum carpeting and repair Fort Sumter exhibits
· New museum exhibits and lighting at the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center
· Ironwork interpretive gates for Liberty Square
· Interpretive artwork for Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center
· Ramps at the Liberty Square and Fort Sumter docks for accessibility
· Interpretive, janitorial and landscaping services
· Repair windows, doors and roof of Fort Moultrie Visitor Center
America’s most tragic conflict ignited at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, when a chain reaction of social, economic and political events exploded into civil war. Two ferry departure locations in the area serve park visitors. Liberty Square in downtown Charleston includes the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, and just across the Cooper River is Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant. While Fort Sumter and the ferry service is open daily except for New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, the ferry’s departure schedule varies with the season.