Managing concessions in protected areas, Paul F J Eagles
Managing Concessions in
Workshop on Tourism Partnerships
Time Block 13
Paul F. J. Eagles
June 2, 2017
Potential Challenges – Capital
• Most protected area managers want short-term
contracts to maximize the protected area ﬂexibility.
• However, most concessionaires want long-term
contracts in order to maximize business development
and return on investment.
• Concessionaires are loath to put money into protected
area-owned facilities in the last years of a contract.
They prefer to transfer this maintenance liability to the
protected area, in the expectation that the protected
area must repair the facilities after the contract is over.
Potential Challenges – Contract
• Concessionaires argue for a narrow
interpretation of their responsibilities within
• They wish to avoid involvement in activities
that are beyond their speciﬁc focus.
• Not available for search and rescue, ﬁre
ﬁghting, site management, enforcement, etc.
Black bear kills woman camper in Provincial Park north of
Chapleau, Ont. CBC News Posted: Sep 07, 2005
Dr. Jaqueline Perry, MD
Physician at Grandview
Potential Challenges –
Concessionaire Staff Members
• Concessionaire staff members are hired to provide
a speciﬁc service, such as selling products in a
store or renting equipment. They may have weak
understanding of protected area policy.
• Inappropriate activities by staff include illegal
harvesting, or provision of incorrect information.
• Housing for staff.
• Low wages, encouraging illegal activities (e.g.
Potential Challenges – Poor
• Poor service delivery can be identiﬁed
when visitors report that services are
below acceptable standards (e.g. incorrect
information, unacceptable or dangerous
situations, rude staff).
Potential Challenges – Legal
• All users of a service, facility, or product have
an expectation that they will not be harmed or
• The direct service provider has legal liability
and can be held accountable by the courts.
• However, those who provide the contract or
the license also have some legal liability, and
also may be held responsible.
Potential Challenges – Pricing
• Contractors may provide services that vary
from consumer products to personal
• Charge rates as much as the market will
• Charge rates determined by park mangers?
Potential Challenges – Transfer of
contracts to third parties
• Contracts must stipulate whether the
contractor can transfer the responsibilities to
• It is best if the protected area management
has the ability to monitor and control all such
• The new contractor must have the ability to
fulﬁll all the contract stipulations that were
used to choose the successful bidder.
Potential Challenges – Political
• Challenges include bottlenecks in
decisions/approving development plans,
political interference in the process (i.e.
pressure to accept one bid over another),
concession fees going to central
government coffers rather to conservation
and visitor mitigation, and interference in
tourism operations by communities.
Potential Challenges – Potential
1) Financial stress due to lower-than expected
2) Contractor losing key staff members;
3) Financial problems within contractor
4) Underreporting of tourism volumes or
5) Unsustainable tourism practices.
Potential Challenges – Monitoring
• All contracts must be monitored by the
protected area for compliance.
• Three aspects of contact monitoring:
1. reports and complaints by concessionaires;
2. reports submitted by the concessionaire to
the protected area, usually annually; and,
3. direct monitoring by protected area staff.
Potential Challenges – Contract
1. Clean-up of facilities and grounds used by
2. Operations up to the exact date of termination;
3. Issues concerning the termination of contract
4. Final payments under the contract; and,
5. Operating environment remaining for a new
Glacier National Park, Canada
• Glacier Park Lodge operated a hotel, two restaurants, and auto service
station near the TransCanada Highway in Glacier National Park in Canada.
• In 2008 the facility contractor sold the business to another contractor.
• In 2012 Parks Canada declined to renew the lease on the land and
buildings, causing the new owners to shut down the business.
• Multiple law suits resulted involving the initial owners, the new owners, and
• The major facility is now empty, derelict, and declining rapidly.
• This case study outlines the high risk for all parties involved in contracting
out and leasing public property to private contractors.
• With failure of the business, the protected area authorities ultimately must
assume capital costs, including those of reclamation.