National Parks in Cental Va. welcome back tourists

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-20 23:58:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Tourists were back at area National Park Service sites in Central Virginia this weekend, the first full weekend following the federal government reopening.

"I am just glad they are back open, they are national treasures," said Vicki Olsen, a Minnesota resident traveling in Richmond.

Olsen said between her trips to various national park sites in New York, Pennsylvania, and now Virginia she spent about $3,000.

That is just one example of how the national economy was hurt during the 16 days federal government shutdown. Standard and Poor's estimate the impact to be $24 billion.

While furloughed park workers will receive back pay, the sites will not receive the funds that they lost due to the shutdown.

With over 700,000 visitors to national park sites across the country daily, a 16 day shutdown results in a lot of unsold souvenirs and sodas.

Petersburg National Battlefield Superintendent Lewis Rogers told CBS 6 that re-opening the sites were not as much of a problem as some may have anticipated, saying that at most locations a maintenance worker was considered an essential employee during the shutdown and was thus able to maintain the property.

"It hasn't been as much of a struggle as it could of been," Rogers said, thanking the community for being so considerate during the closure.

"I think if we had a lot of people in the park during the time that we were gone that might have been a particularly difficult issue," Rogers added.

Tourists told CBS 6 that they did not notice a problem with trash collection or grass not being cut.

But Canadian Tourist David King did say the United States did lose more than just money, it lost respect from the world.

"America has lost a degree of its stature," King said.