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Grand Canyon closure hurting local tour companies

PHOENIX — The federal government shutdown is hurting countless small businesses across the state that depend on the Grand Canyon National Park to make a living.

Arizona Grand Canyon Tours in Phoenix opened its doors in June and this month should have been kicking off primetime for carrying tourists from the Valley to the canyon.

“This is the nicer time for people visiting Phoenix because of the weather,” said Brett Jones with Arizona Grand Canyon Tours.

Jones said they run tours once each week to Bearizona and Route 66 in Williams and the Grand Canyon. Now they’re now taking tourists only to Bearizona but many tourists are left feeling they missed out on the canyon.

“Grand Canyon is the bucket list item,” he said. “They want to see it. We have great reviews on Bearizona but the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We are hoping to offset the loss of the canyon tour with Bearizona but this is having a huge impact on our ability to market our signature tour, which is the Grand Canyon.”

Jones said many of his customers weren’t aware of the federal government shutdown and caught completely off-guard with the park shutdown.

“We had travelers from Wisconsin come in that had booked more than a month ago and obviously were disappointed.”

Jones said they have lost thousands of dollars this week and that number will pile up with each passing week of the park’s closure.