The Problem of Concessions
A New York Times story in 1980, entitled “Park Service Conflict: Concessions vs. Conservation,” suggested that the real issue in the long-simmering dispute was the future of the parks. The opening and closing dates of the season are set by the Park Service. The concessioner’s contract grants him “Preferential Rights,” meaning that he is given preference over other competing firms when his contract is up for renewal. Steve Mather was a practical man who once explained the basic reason for having concessions: “Scenery is a hollow enjoyment to a tourist who sets out in the morning after an indigestible breakfast and fitful sleep on an impossible bed.” By the time the Park Service was established in 1916, concession operations in the parks were disruptive and uneconomical; many were of the dog-eat-dog variety that tried to snare tourists from one another with tactics borrowed from a carnival midway.