Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flagstaff Chamber Pushes for End to Government Shutdown

Dear Chamber Members,

As I mentioned last week, the Flagstaff Chamber is profoundly aware of how the partial shutdown of the federal government is affecting our region.

In the past week, we have been visited by dozens of tourists - mainly from Europe and often in tears - who had planned on a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the Grand Canyon and don’t know what to do. We hear daily from local members having to furlough employees because their businesses were dependent upon open national parks.  Hotels are reporting room cancellations
. River outfitters and tour guides are reporting significant losses while scrambling to create new experiences not reliant on the Grand Canyon.  And although federal employees have been assured they will be given back pay once the government is up and running, the big question iswhen will that happen.

The Flagstaff Chamber is responding for your benefit and is doing all it can to ease this burden recognizing fully that our region may be harder hit than many due to the significance of the Grand Canyon to area tourism. We are making sure that tourists are aware of the many great attractions in Flagstaff still open in order to keep them and their dollars here. We are urgently advocating to our elected representatives for a swift resolution to this shutdown. And we want to be your voice in this challenging time.

Specifically since Oct. 1 we have:

  • Participated in a conference call with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick to give her an updated report on what is happening in our region. We specifically informed her of how damaging the closure of the Grand Canyon has been to numerous Flagstaff businesses. We urged the Congresswoman to make it her priority to help broker a compromise that would open all national parks with expediency.
  • Fielded an 80% increase of in-person visitors and phone calls over this same time last year in our front office visitor services center.  Hundreds of displaced tourists (who could not visit national parks as planned) were redirected to other Flagstaff area attractions so they could remain in our community and region.
  • Distributed dozens of our printed “Attractions That Are Open” listings to visitors and posted this listing to our website which has 8000 unique visitors monthly.
  • Created many Facebook posts to drive more visitors to local businesses throughout the Flagstaff region. Our Facebook page has a total weekly reach of more than 9,000. 
We can do more, but to do that, we need your help.
  • If you are a business affected by the shutdown and you have received cancellations(such as a tour guides for the Grand Canyon, lodging, river runners and more) and you have decided to do things differently during the shutdown, such as offering alternative services or products, email or call us so we can publicize it to our visitors, on our website, and in our social media.  
  • Please participate in our survey, due out later this week, on how the shutdown is affecting you and your business. This will provide the statistical analysis we need to press our case to local representatives, specifically Congresswoman Kirkpatrick when we speak with her in the near future.  We will also share the results of this member business survey regarding the government shutdown with Senators McCain and Flake on your behalf. 
Thank you for your membership.  In times like this collectively we can make a bigger impact than working alone.

Julie Pastrick
Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

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