-- Last Updated: Mar-22-13 11:28 AM EST --
I believe the boat tours in question are run by concessionaire Everglades National Park Boat Services Co.The owner/operator of the company in 2009 was Sammy Hamilton, Jr., who just happened to be the "Mayor of Everglades City", Florida. All officers on the Board of Directors of the company were/are Hamilton family members.
In 2009, the National Park Service awarded the company a contract for 10 years. Park Service also awarded the company a contract for 5 years at a second site, Flamingo, at the park's south end. Hamilton has been running boat tours in the Everglades for 40 years. Obviously, the boat touring business is good.
Recent history suggests a rocky relationship between the company, and the federal government? Obviously not rocky enough to keep the Park Service from awarding new contracts? The park service attempted to open up bids for the contracts, but a federal lawsuit by Hamilton cancelled that idea.The Mayor of Everglades City maintained control.
Evidently the U.S. Coast Guard having fined the company $60.000.00 after an accident involving one of their boats had no effect on the contract? Hamilton had been working on an extension to an expired contract for the past 16 years. Collier county commisioners have long supported Hamilton's boat tours, and played a part in his contract's renewal, at Hamilton's request.
Combined annual gross revenue for the 2 sites up for bid was $1,800,000.00 (in 2006). Probably worth triple that amount now. "Just the name Everglades National Park means millions of dollars to Everglades City", Hamilton said. "Having this concession in "local" hands is great".
Tour costs are $42.50 per person for those above 12 years of age.
A gift shop is available for tour customers. Tourists may purchase t-shirts, hats, suntan oil, sunglasses, picture, postcards, painting, snacks, books, and other souvenir gee gaws.
One boat load of 6 adult tourists; taking an hour & 45 minute boat tour equals about $255.00 profit.
Boat tours leave every 30 minutes, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, 365 days a year.
Source: Naples, Florida Daily News
The tourists like a snappy pace on the tour; they have short attention spans, and want to move on down the road the the next "stellar attraction".
Concession operators love a snappy pace.
Faster tours = more tours = more money!
The Park Service probably likes a snappy pace; they getting a cut of the $$$ action.
Let us know how your complaint works out for you.