Starting May 16, the National Park Service will ban commercial guided tours at the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the Statue of Liberty Museum and the National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island.
NPS said it will implement the ban because a proliferation of guided tours in recent years has created gridlock at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. NPS partner Statue Cruises said roughly 250,000 passengers took commercial tours in 2018, a six-fold increase from a decade ago, reported the New York Times.
Even though roughly 4% of Statue of Liberty visitors arrive with a tour group (most tourists go on their own), the tour groups cause a disproportionate number of problems, the NPS told the Times. The NPS said tour groups crowd doorways and exhibits and obstruct traffic flow, and that tour guides have been known to talk too loudly and get into altercations with other tour leaders.
The Guides Association of New York City is vehemently against the new rule, saying it will result in lost jobs and "negatively impact the visitor experience." The guides association maintains that the NPS does not have sufficient personnel to manage the throng of visitors to the State of Liberty and Ellis Island on the busiest days, when up to 25,000 people travel there.
Further, the association said NPS overreacted to a "minor problem," saying that the implementation of a tour guide code of conduct would suffice.
Source: Travel Weekly USA