The National Park Service (NPS) Commercial Services Program is responsible for the oversight of commercial visitor services in the national parks authorized by concession contracts, commercial use authorizations (CUAs), and leases. A wide range of activities and services are provided through these instruments.
A concessions operation is a way of providing commercial visitor services such as food, lodging, and retail through a third party (concessioner) within a national park. These services, provided through the use of concession contracts, must be necessary and appropriate for visitor use and enjoyment. Concession contracts are generally valid for 10 years or less but can extend for as many as 20 years. Concession contracts specify the range of facilities accommodation, and services types the concessioner agrees to offer. The rates the concessioner can charge for these services are approved by the National Park Service and must be comparable to those under similar conditions outside the park.
Commercial Use Authorizations
Commercial use authorizations are granted to private businesses to permit small-scale commercial activities. CUAs may be issued to authorize services that:
- Are determined to be an appropriate use of the park;
- Will have minimal impact on park resources and values; and
- Are consistent with the purpose for which the unit was established, as well as all applicable management plans, park policies, and regulations.
Leases can be issued for NPS land or certain structures that are not subject to authorization through a concession contract, commercial use authorization. Leased property must be used for an activity and in a manner that is consistent with the purposes established by law for the park. For example, a NPS property, such as a restaurant that is more frequently visited by non-park visitors, can be leased to a third party. Leases are issued for rental rates that are at least equal to the fair market value of the leased property. Leases can be issued for up to 60 years in order to provide a viable leasing opportunity in light of investment requirements and other relevant factors.