Tourism at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

LCI is excited to be co-hosting the Grand Canyon Semester for Fall 2014 with NAU’s Honors Program and Grand Canyon National Park. The GCS students are kindly providing blog updates of their activities this fall so that we can live vicariously through their experiences– hooray!

By  Kelli and Zia

Behind the scenes at the Grand Canyon there is a community which is small and close-knit, they have their own school and all of the residents work in the park and all help each other out when needed.GCS@GRCA

Imagine you’re sitting at home watching tv, there’s a knock on the door. You get up and answer it, expecting a neighbor but instead you see a man in Hawaiian t-shirt with his family standing back a few feet. He is lost. You would like to think this is the only time this has happened, but it’s not. You have almost gotten used to the unwelcome tourists knocking on your door asking for directions. This is a common occurrence for the nearly 3,000 members of the Grand Canyon community.

Out of all the National Parks in the U.S. Grand Canyon is the only one to have a k-12 school there is also a Day Care/ Pre-k which is open to visitors and community members. All the school age children at Grand Canyon National Park and the nearby town of Tusayan attend this school (Go Phantoms!).

Currently children and young adults attend the GCNP School, but with the proposed expansion of Tusayan there would be no need for high-schoolers to go to the park for school, there would be one built in Tusayan.

Tusayan is a transient community that caters specifically to tourists going to the Grand Canyon with hotels, Pink Jeep tours, and over flight of the Canyon in a plane or a helicopter.

IMG_0644There is a lot of controversy behind the proposed development, the main dispute is over water and housing for employees of both the town and park.

During our visit to the Park, we had the opportunity to interview many different people of several different Park and Tusayan commodities. This included the Mayor of Tusayan, the general managers of Xanterra, Paul Revere Transportation, Grand Canyon Airline and Airport, Maverick Helicopters, and the managers of Tusayan hotels, to name a few. We also talked to the principle of the school as well as tourists at the park.

This lead into a class debate from hypothetical perspectives of different stakeholders in the park and surrounding areas. Despite our sarcastic and fun loving nature as a class we took the discussion very seriously and “solved” the problems facing the stakeholders. Although it took a while we managed to come to three conclusions about the proposed development, the water situation and education system in the Park. Although it was only hypothetical we felt very accomplished.

This was an interesting exercise to look at the inner workings of the park as well as the processes that go into maintaining a tourist town and National Park. We all agreed that it was a tough and stressful exercise as we portrayed our stakeholders and what we learned from them. However, we came to the conclusion that with a little bit of communication it is possible to reach a compromise that is agreeable to all parties involved.


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