Ranger Shelton Johnson addresses the NTA Convention (NTA Photo)

America’s National Parks were featured at a major luncheon program at the National Tour Association convention in Las Vegas this month, marking the first time in anyone’s recollection that the national parks were given such focused attention before the nation’s tour industry.

Response to the national parks program was truly sensational, generating high interest among tour operators and U.S. destinations to meet with National Park representatives attending the show.

On the convention floor throughout the week were representatives of the National Park Service: Rich Wiedeman, Donald Leadbetter and Desmond Lee, who fielded questions and provided guidance to the tour industry about how they can best connect people to parks.  Also there were John Poimiroo and Susan Cronin of the NPPC.

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While other exhibitors were able to leave their booths early to attend evening functions, that wasn’t the case for Weideman, Leadbetter and Lee who were so busy that they were among the first manning their booths and the last to leave, each day.

Sponsoring the event were Yellowstone National Park Lodges/Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, Forever Resorts, Glacier Park Inc. and Brand USA/DiscoverAmerica.com, who were recognized during the luncheon presentation and were able to have their materials displayed at a very busy America’s National Parks booth.

The luncheon program included inspirational video of the national parks edited by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, followed by an introduction by NPPC Chief Executive Officer Poimiroo, who recognized NTA initiatives to bring more youth and minorities to the national parks.

NPS Interpretive Ranger, Shelton Johnson (NTA Photo)

National Park Service Interpretive Ranger Shelton Johnson from Yosemite National Park electrified the audience, moving several to tears with his emotional Call to Action, describing the obstacles people of color must overcome in order to feel welcomed to visit the parks and encouraging the tour industry to use its resources, knowledge and abilities to connect all Americans to their national parks.

Following Ranger Johnson’s presentation, he was stopped so often that he had difficulty getting back to the America’s National Parks booth which was surrounded at times by tour operators and destinations seeking to discuss how they might better connect people to the parks.

The next NTA convention occurs in Florida in 2013, though discussions are already underway as to how to top this past month’s presentation.  Destinations and businesses interested in benefiting from partnering with America’s National Parks are encouraged to contact NPPC VP of Partnership Development, Sue Cronin [scronin@nationalparksonline.org or (203) 256-8402].

To read what Examiner.com wrote of Ranger Johnson’s presentation, CLICK HERE.









We enlist the power of partnerships to promote visitation to America’s national parks!