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8:55 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Tourist volume down on reservation, but lodge business good

Tourist numbers on the Hualapai Indian Reservation are down since the terrorist attacks of Sept.

11, but they are expected to rise for the balance of this year, according to Sheri Yellowhawk, president of the Grand Canyon Resort Corp.

"The numbers are a little lower than last year, but they're starting to pick back up," Yellowhawk said.

"People stopped traveling after 9/11, and we felt the impact as everyone else did," she said.

Tourist revenues are down roughly 10 percent, she said.

However, business is good at the Hualapai Lodge, which opened in Peach Springs in 1995.

"Business there has gone up and I think that can be attributed to our increase in river-running (raft) trips," Yellowhawk said.

"It appears people are looking to stay within the United States, so our river-running numbers and profits from that have gone up along with occupancy at the lodge."

Yellowhawk estimated that just 10 percent of guests at Hualapai Lodge are travelers on U.S.

Route 66.

The bulk of people staying overnight book advance reservations, often for a river-rafting trip, she said.

The Hualapai Nation is working to promote tourism more now in the domestic market since most tourists come from abroad, she said.

Radio and newspaper ads along with ads in tourist publications are the focus of promoting Grand Canyon West and other attractions of the reservation, Yellowhawk said.

"Our advertising budget is about $125,000 per year," she said.

"But a lot of tour operators in Las Vegas advertise for us."

The Hualapai Nation operated a casino for less than one year during the 1990s before it closed.

"Most tourists come from Las Vegas to see the Grand Canyon, not to gamble," said Louise Benson, the Hualapai tribal chairwoman, in explaining why the casino failed.

There has been discussion within the tribe of possibly opening another casino in the future, but agreeing on a site is proving difficult, Benson said.

As for the rest of 2002, tourist numbers are expected to increase, bringing a partial financial recovery from Sept.

11 effects, Yellowhawk said.