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Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

Saint Cloud...
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Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

"The monument's manager says the program ended as soon as he was told it violated policy"

www.staradvertiser.com/s…

Hopefully this will free up more of the tickets, but, probably not for the several months in advance that the tickets were "sold".

Dallas
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1. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

dusty - really can't read the article. Can you summarize what it says and means?

Thanks

Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

I was a tad confused too, Placebets. From what I gathered, they won't be "selling" blocks of tickets to commercial operators anymore?

Edited: 02 June 2014, 16:53
Mineola, New York
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3. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

That's what it sounds like. Doesn't seem like it affects the tickets that individuals can reserve via the web site but speaks to the bulk ticket sale to tour operators.

Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

Frank3, that's exactly what I read. That sounds like a GOOD thing for all us individual folks I think…..

Boston, MA
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5. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

If the tickets aren't being sold, in bulk, to tour operators, then it means more tickets available to the public.

I was always surprised that they sold tickets to the tour operators. It definitely seemed to be creating an artificial shortage of tickets, which then drives people to have to "buy" tickets via the tours.

Saint Cloud...
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6. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

"dusty - really can't read the article. Can you summarize what it says and means?"

I only get the short version of the article.

Maui, Hawaii
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7. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

The superintendent of the USS Arizona Memorial has reversed his stand on the diversion of "walk-up" tour tickets — which are supposed to be free — for sale to commercial operators. Paul DePrey now says the practice, carried out over a period of about seven months, was in fact against National Park Service policy.

...

Three investigations of National Park Service management at the USS Arizona Memorial have been conducted in the past year and a half over poor morale, the ticket sales issue and, most recently, an ethics probe of the ticket sales, said John Landrysmith, a former park guide at the memorial.

...

Managers pulled out hundreds of the walk-up tickets daily and sold them with an audio tour for $6 apiece to tour companies, according to Landrysmith and the results of the second investigation, which were obtained by the Star-Advertiser.

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Dallas
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8. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

So, it sounds like some of the managers were playing "fast and loose" with some of the tickets being sold to tour companies? Let's see, government employees doing something underhanded or illegal for private gain? How can that be? And, these people are not even part of the Veteran's Affairs Agency ....?

Send them to jail !!

I always kind of wondered how the private tours were able to get tickets when the public was not in some cases. Never did sit to well with me anyway.

Thanks for the info.

Dallas
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9. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

Won't this kind of put the commercial tour operators out of business? They were only useful for guaranteed tickets that could not be reserved through the park service, and I would assume that they can not sell seats that people can walk up and "maybe" get tickets and who knows what time they will get.

No way they can organize a trip if people get all kinds of times to go out to the memorial. Sounds like the end of this business as a viable option to me.

pzp
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10. Re: Selling free USS Arizona Memorial tickets 'a mistake'

Selling free tickets 'a mistake,' park official concedes - Honolulu Star Advertiser

The monument's manager says the program ended as soon as he was told it violated policy

By William Cole

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 02, 2014

Arizona Memorial

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The superintendent of the USS Arizona Memorial has reversed his stand on the diversion of "walk-up" tour tickets — which are supposed to be free — for sale to commercial operators. Paul DePrey now says the practice, carried out over a period of about seven months, was in fact against National Park Service policy.

DePrey was asked Thursday whether the sale of the tickets was proper and legal.

"I believe so," DePrey said.

On Friday, however, he called the Hono­­lulu Star-Advertiser to say he was mistaken.

"When I made the decision (to sell the tickets), I thought it was proper and legal," DePrey said.

But after reading a front-page story about the ticketing controversy, DePrey said he didn't want to give the impression that he still thought the ticket sales were aboveboard.

"We stopped the program because I learned that I made a mistake," he said.

As a result of a National Park Service investigation into the ticket sales, DePrey said he was told by officials that the practice violated park policy.

"And immediately after learning that, we stopped the program," he said, adding that was in January.

In response to the improper ticket sales and the investigation of them, DePrey said he put together a "ticketing team" that included park employees and National Park Service staff from regional and Washington, D.C., offices "to go through all of the items that were identified in the (investigation) to see what could be done immediately and see what we needed a little more data (on) to respond to."

Three investigations of National Park Service management at the USS Arizona Memorial have been conducted in the past year and a half over poor morale, the ticket sales issue and, most recently, an ethics probe of the ticket sales, said John Landrysmith, a former park guide at the memorial.

DePrey, who is superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the Arizona Memorial, said he couldn't comment on whether any disciplinary action was taken because the park service doesn't comment on personnel-related matters.

For about seven months the park service and its nonprofit fundraising arm, Pacific Historic Parks, diverted a portion of what were supposed to be free tickets given out at the door for tours to the USS Arizona Memorial, and instead sold those to tour companies for a fee, meaning fewer walk-up visitors could set foot on the national landmark.

Each day, 4,350 tickets are available for a short movie presentation and boat ride to the sunken battleship.

Managers pulled out hundreds of the walk-up tickets daily and sold them with an audio tour for $6 apiece to tour companies, according to Landrysmith and the results of the second investigation, which were obtained by the Star-Advertiser.

The cost was passed on to visitors paying for a commercial tour. Polynesian Adventure Tours, for example, charges $38.32 for an Arizona Memorial and "Hono­lulu city highlights" tour.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act prohibits the park service from charging a fee to visit the memorial.

Other tickets that are available for reservation online to tour companies and individuals are usually booked up well in advance.

Landrysmith, an Iraq combat veteran and interpretive park guide at the memorial for three years, said he quit in disgust in February after he complained about the walk-up ticket diversion to a manager and then was discriminated against for doing so.

"The hardest part about that, as someone who truly cared about my job and cared about why we were supposed to be there, when we ran out of (walk-up) tickets within 15 minutes to half an hour, to stand there for another eight hours and have to tell folks, ‘I'm very sorry, but we just don't have any more tickets available,' it broke our hearts," Landrysmith said.

Recreation.gov, through which reservations can be made for a USS Arizona Memorial free tour, on Sunday showed the next available date for two tickets as being Sept. 2.

Dozens of tour companies on Oahu are allowed to reserve blocks of tickets online.

According to the investigation, the number of tickets pulled daily from the walk-up batch varied dramatically, with highs above 700 tickets a day. On Nov. 22, for example, 1,001 of those tickets were reserved for commercial operators.

DePrey said park service investigators concluded that the bundling of the free tickets with the $6 audio headset rental was improper, and so was the secondary reservation system for those tickets, which existed outside of recreation.gov.

The investigation said some tour companies wanted only the tickets and did not even bother to pick up the audio headsets.

According to DePrey, the money went to Pacific Historic Parks. Landrysmith said the number of park rangers was cut in half to about five or six at the memorial in recent years.

Partly as a result of budget cuts, Pacific Historic Parks employees are staffing an increasing number of jobs.

"We live within the resources that are provided by Congress," DePrey said. "That means from time to time that we need to work with our partners (Pacific Historic Parks) more closely."

Gene Caliwag, president and chief executive officer at Pacific Historic Parks, could not be reached for comment Friday.

DePrey said about 2,000 tickets per day of the 4,350 available are now devoted to walk-up visitors. But at peak visit times such as the summer, those can go quickly in the morning.

"So we want people to plan ahead and be prepared when they come out to the site," he said.

In 2013 the park reported nearly 1.8 million visitors, according to the investigation.

DePrey said finding the right mix of reservation and walk-up ticket distribution is a complex task.

"I don't want folks to also get the message that going through a tour company is necessarily a bad thing," DePrey said. "For many folks it's the convenience of not needing to wait in line and have the transportation provided to them. There's a value to that."

But if visitors decide not to use a tour company, "they can generally get a ticket if they arrive early in the morning, and if they miss a ticket, there's generally an opportunity during the day for folks to use the standby system," DePrey said.

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