DOWN UNDER Volume XIV No.4 Dec. 1979 NewsleNer of the NATIONAL CAVES ASSOCIATION
Vol. XIV No.4 DOWN UNDER Dec. 1979 Newsletter al the NATIONAL CAVES ASSOCIATION EDITOR H. Dwight Weaver, BRIDAL CAVE, Camdenton, Mo. 65020 Phone : (314) 346-2676 (cave)-(3l4) 365-3504 (home) NCA OFFICERS PRESIDENT: Jack Steiner, RUBY FALLS, Lookout Mtn. Scenic HWY", Chattanooga, Tennessee 37409 VICE-PRESIDENT: Gordon Smith, ~mRENGO CAVE/Box 217 Marengo, Indiana 47140 SECRETARY-TREASURER: Barbara Munson, Rt. 9 Box 106 McMinnville,' Tenn. 37110 Phone (615) 668-3925 REGIONAL OFFICERS REGION ONE: Corin e c t i.cu t Delaware .. Maine .. teaeeochu e er t e New Hampshire .. New Jersey, New York .. PennsyZvania .. Rhode Island and Vermont Harrison Terk, HOWE CAVERNS, Howes Cave, New York REGION TWO: Maryland .. Virginia .. West Virginia Thomas H. Gibson, SKYLINE CAVERNS, P.O.Box 193, Front Royal, Virginia REGION THREE: Indiana~ Kentucky~ Michigan~ Ohio Fred Conway, SQUIRE BOONE CAVERNS, P.O. Box 711, New Albany, Indiana REGION FOUR: Arkansas, I~linois~ Iowa~ Missouri~ Wisconsin~ Minnesota, Mississippi, Louisiana Russ Campbell, FANTASTIC CAVERNS, Rt.20, Box 1935, Springfield, Missouri REGION FIVE: North Dakota, South Dakota~ Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska L.W.Pullen, RUSHMORE CAVE, Keystone, S. Dakota REGION SIX: Washingto~~ Idaho~ Oregon~ Nevada~ and California John Winther, 12 El Sereno Rd., Orinda, california REGION SEVEN: Utah, Colorado, Ax'izona and New Mexico Dave Candelaria, ICE CAVE, Box 12,000, Ice Caves Rd.,Grants, NM REGION EIGHT: Texas~ pklahoma and Kansas John Bridges, CASCADE CAVERNS, Rt. 4, Box 4110, Boerne, Texas REGION NINE: Florida~' Georgia~ Alabama~ North Carolina~ South Carolina~ Tenn. Allen Mathis, DeSOTO CAVERNS,Rt.l, Childersburg, Alab~ma REGION TEN: Alaska~ ~awaii~ Foreign H.L.Anderson, LAKE SHASTA CAVERNS, P.O. Box ~Ol, O'Brien, California COVER: A cloise-up view of the Was hington Monument" stala~mitic dome in CRYSTAL CAVE, Missouri. DOlIN UNDER Published quarterly by the NATIONAL CAVES ASSOCIATION, Rt. 9, Box 106, McMinnville, Tenn. 37110. DOWN UNDER is mailed to all operating show caves in the United States. Send allrna.terial for pUblication to the Editor at his address as given above. Advertising rates furnished upon request.
51 FUEL SHORTAGE 1979 HOW BAD WAS IT? The opening session of the 1979 NCA Convention was a roundtable discussion of the 1979 fuel crunch and how it effected thecave industry from coast to coast. This is what many of your fellow cave operators had to say: )SKYLI NE CAVERNS, Virginia (Tom Gibson) For the first 7 months of the year we were down 33.3 percent. We were off 64 percent for the first 7 days of July but we ended up July down 45.6 percent. Business did come back some in August. We were down 28 percent in August which reduces the deficit for the year to about 29 percent. September looks pretty good. We came through Labor Day down 8 percent (these are dollar figures). We have a problem in the balance of the year because the fall season last year was the best welve ever had. If we come within 5 percent of what we did in the fall of last year 1 1 11 be happy. One of the big problems we had, of course, was that we bought for the Gift Shop in normal quantities and we had to use some money we took in over Labor Day to payoff the last merchandise payments. We were like 5 months late on some of those. Our gift buying amounts to about $125,000 a year so weIll be looking very closely at it for next year, trying to make it conform better to what we can project > MARENGO CAVE./ Indiana (Gary Roberson) We went major expansion last year and opened up a second tour. That it hard to get any figures. We have a lot of people that both tours, about 25 percent or more. on a makes go on We got the new tour open about Memorial Day and up to about then we were about even with 1978. We opened the new tour in late May just as the gas thing began to hit and we were up 25-30 percent right off the bat which was people taking the second tour, and then it gradually declined through the Fourth of July to where, including the second tour, we were running about even with last year so we were probably actually down about 25 percent. It started back up after the Fourth of July until July 26 when we had the biggest flood in our area we had ever had. It didn't hurt the cave much physically, but it substantially cut our tourist traffic through August. Overall, for the summer, we were about even with The second tour will work out well for us. We haven I t got a increase in expense except for the development of it. I itlll payoff well in the long run 1978. great think closed August >BLUESPRING CAVERNS, Indiana (Robert Armstrong) We were about 6 days in June, about 6 days in July, and 10 days in due to flooding. But overall, we were down about 17 percent.
52 > FANTASTIC CAVERNS, Missouri (Russ Campbell) Its not been a good year. Our overall traffic was down about 18 percent. We took a long hard look at our pricing policies. We passed on a substantial price increase this year. We raised both categories of our ticket prices $1.00 each so our actual cash flow was only down 11 percent. We proj ec t s We We drilled a scaping. stopped some of our committed funds have a sewer plant weill put off until well which will need a pump. We scaled for cormnitted next season. back on landOur survey indicates that the long distance traveler-the man that lives 400 to 500 miles away--is off 50-60 percent. Our circumstances may be a little different from some of you. We have two arteries, one being an Interstate with long distance travelers, the other being a more southerly route,principally from Kansas City to Branson. We've seen an actual increase in the short distance, one-day-away family. We plan to readjust our market towards that person. We do see some positive things out of all this. Most of us are used to scaling our business up. When you start scaling one down, its a new experience. > ONONDAGA CAVE) Missouri (Bill Breen) This year we started out pretty good then about the middle of June we started having problems because St. Louis, which is our major drawing area, was having a gas shortage. In our local area we actually had no gas problem but St. Louis's problem cut us down about 30 percent. The Fourth of July weekend was pretty well disastrous but late in July we started coming back up. > SQUIRE BOONE CAVERNS, Indiana (Rick Conway) We figure for the calendar year 1979 we'll be down about 22 percent below last year, but our per capita spending is way up. One reason is that we did increase prices. Second, we opened a candy shop with a fUdge making machine and the results were fantastic. Never had we of thought we would have sold so much fUdge. OPENING SESSION OF THE 1979 NCA CONVENTION. MEETINGS WERE HELD AT THREE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS FOR VARIETY.
53 >SENACA CAVERNS, Ohio (Dick Bell) Most of it was due not to the economy, but to the fact that the gas station operators shut down for the weekends. We had 15-20 calls on Saturdays and Sundays from all over--I'm talking about Pennsylvania, Indiana, Western New York--and the calls were not how much is your tour, how long does it take to go through--all the normal questions, but "If we come there can we get a full tank of gas to get home on?" I have a Ford dealer in town who is pretty well put together and he wants to put in a two-tank service station at my place at no expense to me. What he really wants is the a LLo tment; I can get because of my attendance figures so people will have gas to use all winter long at his Ford dealership. 1 1 m thinking seriously next year I can advertise that Senaca Caverns. of letting him put it in so that gas will always be available at >BRIDAL CAVE~ Missouri (Dwight Weaver) We started out the year about 20 percent up during the first quarter. Along about the fourth week of May the bottom fell out. Through June we were down about 19 percent. From mid July through August we came back up to about 14 percent. We averaged out about 17 percent off for the summer by Labor Day. We didn't raise our prices this year. They were the same as 1978 so our figures gave us a good gauge to go by. Actually, because our Spring was so good, we were still in pretty good shape by the Fourth of July. September is looking good. The first week we matched 1978 dollar for dollar. We've actually had a couple of days that September was over the same period in 1978. We won't gain back what we lost and I'm looking for us to be about 9 or 10 percent off for the full year. >LINCOLN CAVERNS~ Pennsylvania (Mike Dun~avy) We were down about 25 percent overall. We're in a diversified business and our other interests were up so much, we sort of neglected our cave business. When we saw how slow it was going, we just didn't put out additional advertising. I'm sure the American people will get out and go and this group will come up with the answer. It's heart ening to see so many people here because I believe the joint thinking and exchange of ideas is the thing that's going to save us all. We're in a new ball game. We're going to have to play different. And the rules are different. the some funds we were >DE sora CAVERNS, Alabama (Allen Mathis) Our story is same. We had a new Governor in Alabama this year and he did new budgeting and lots of the schools had to cut out their for field trips, so we were off 30 percent in May. In June down 10 percent. We were also down in July and August. To offset the crisis we went ahead and did some heavy local advertising.
54 ~ HARRISON TERK -III 1979 NCA President STEINER 1980 NCA President whole I though sui ts. >CAVE OF THE MOUNDS) Wisconsin (Mike Rooney ) On t.he think we had a pretty good year and I say that because al"' a couple of people hurt themselves I we never had any LawI think it helps to look on the bright side some. We ran out of money last year trying to capitalize--some new buildings and other things--but this year we managed to qet; some money out of SBA. I think that is on the positive side of things. Although we kept telling the guides how far behind we were falling week by week, and began talking to them about depressions and things like that--which they didn't understand--they managed to remain sullen but at least not mutinous. If you want figures, I guess we were down about 17 percent in attendance and about 7 percent in dollars. We send in our figures (NCA Monthly Economic Impact Report) based on headcount. I'm one of those unreconstructed people who believes I've really got to know how many people are coming because I think I can say that over the past 4 or 5 years we're probably 25 percent down in attendance. I'm talking about a data base that takes in' 4 or 5 years. If you keep looking back to last year it is like a yo-yo. You're up and you're down. But it is important as an industry to understand what has been happening over the last 5 or 6 years because a lot of things have happened in the way of competition. There's just a lot more places for the tourist to spend his dollars and it costs so damn much just to sleep and eat. Now he can't say "wh i.ch will we see first?" He says "which of the three are we going to see?" And that means that the cave is in some pretty tough competition. Anyway, we keep a headcount. We raised our prices on the 16th of August and that helped a little.
55 )-CASCADE CAVERNS) Texas (John Bridges) Our story is the same I'll go all the way back to last August (1978). There was a very severe f load in two towns, one on each side of me. I I m in the ru.i.dd Le and don I t even get my parking lot wet, but the people stayed a~ay from me because nationally, these flood~ were well publicized. That started it off. All winter long (78-79) we were as vulnerable as the farmer to the weather. We had 17 consecutive lousy weekends. Then Carter and his cohorts did it to us. What we have done is about everything we could to capitalize on the fact that 1 1 m within 50 miles of about one million people. Among the things I was able to do was to be interviewed on the local tourist scene. Got a chance to say my two bits worth about the fact that it was an energy scare, riot an energy shortage. In talking to travelers I found no one who had the guts to get out on'the road who had trouble getting fuel. These people who got out during the first six weeks of s urnme r went home and said "t'ner e I S no shortage. I went to Florida and I never had any problems-" So now the others take a belated vacation. So our ousiness began to go up My interview was played on television on a Monday evening and Tuesday and Wednesday my business was greater than it was on the previous Saturday and Sunday. And the results continued all summer long. The day before I left to come to this Convention I made a trip into San Antonio to get some things and I made five stops. At four of those places someone said "Hey, John. I saw you on TV about a month ago. II So you know television is effective. Our business was actually up in August over 1978 but then our 1978 August wasn't too good. What we are concentrating on is the local market. I'm also going the service station route. We're putting in a 50,000 gallon per month station. You can't do this with an old station but if you put in a new one, you can get a 50,000 gallong per month allotment. I could make $7,500 out of one rronths gasoline, if I could sell it all. If you don't sell it, its still a good thing to be able to publicize at any time that you can get them home if they corne to your cave. By year. The Possibly 25 otherwise. other thing the way,the campground business is what saved us this campground people do not all go through the cave. percent do .. But thats people you wouldnlt have gotten And then the campground pays for itself. Its just one we can make money on. )-CUMBERLAND CAVERNS} Tennessee (Roy Davis) It galls me to have to say the same thing everybody else is saying so I'll say we have noticed a spectacular increase in percentages over 1956,the year we opened. anyhow. This year I've been building a house, which is more fun If you canlt make money, spend it, I say. I survive. I the lack of have noticed the motor home industry has continued to thought they would be off the highway right away due to fuel.
56 >BLANCHARD SPRINGS CAVERN, Arkansas (R'i a h.a v d tdi.l.l.e ) We're off 16 percent for the whole year. Every month up until September we were down,particularly in June and July. July was disastrous. This radon thing is quite an issue. We're in it up to our ears. We're monitoring. We1ve had to buy the equipment and everything. Tom Aley and the stand that this group has taken about not really getting worried about it, and the standards established by NCA are good. The NCA and Tom Aley have done an excellent job. (Blanchard Springs Cavern is Federally owned and operated by the u.s. Forest Service--Editor) We've got a $50,000 lawsuit against us. A person claimed they fell in the cave. We keep records of every person that even slips. We're having a hard time even making sure this person was ever in our cave. They have the name of a cave guide who led the tour and its not even the name of anyone who has ever worked for us. >MAMMOTH ONYX CAVE, Kentucky (Bill Austin) Anybody here with a new wife, a new car and a new watch, hasn't been in the cave business very long. On Memorial Day of this year Ruth Pohl was watching the business as usual, and this was her 58th birthday at the cave. She was critically ill and in a wheelchair, and she had some good advice. I was worried about this gas thing. She said "Don I t worry about it. They'll come back." So that eased my mind. l've just tried to cut expenses. }lLAKE SHASTA CAVERNS, California (Andy Anderson) going to shake my Chairman of the Board up and tell you folks 144 percent up that's from the first day we opened in I'm we're 1964~ The gas crunch caught us a lot sooner that it did most of you people. By the time August got here we didn't have much of a gas scare in California. People were really getting out and moving around. We were 16 percent down through July. In August we carne on as good as August of 1978. We are going gung ho for September. I firmly believe we're in for better times. We've dug in, we've got spurs on, we cut down on labor as best we could. We have upgraded our Gift Shop merchandise. Dollar received per visitor is up. And through John's insistence and my son's work, our group tour business is well on the increase. I think its something we all have to look into. ) ICE CAVES) New Mexico (David Candelaria) In January and February we had a record snow and couldn't even get out of the house. That lasted two months, so we were closed. It then began picking up slow but finally when it picked up good the gas crunch caught us and we were down for the summer about 30 percent. We had gone up on admissions so we carne out about even in dollars. ) COSMIC CAVERN) Arkansas (Randy Langhover) Down our way 30 percent seems to be the normal percentage for most people. It was the same for us.
JACK STEINER ON A ROOFTOP IN EUREKA >:MERAMEC CAVERNS) Missouri (Bob Hudson) This spring we too had water problems. Just prior to Easter the Meramec River flooded. It came right up to the cave entrance. This should have told me we were going to have a bad year. I'm very unhappy with the news media. Just before Memorial Day here came all this news that the allocations were running out. It hurt. They then let it coast, and in the latter part of June they started saying Fourth of July was going to be disastrous because gas was running out. In our area we have 14 service stations. Nine of those stayed open. The others were ones that always closed anyway. The news media (radio,TV and newspaper) jumped on the fact that some stations were closed. >OHIO CAVERNS) Ohio (Marion Smith) We were off about 8 percent. I think the whole thing was media. On the way down here I had the radio on and they said things were back to normal. We should have all the gas we need. This morning on the Harrison, Arkansas, TV station, I heard that October will be the worst month for the'entire year for gas shortages. > MARVEL CAVE J Missouri (Larry Graves) We started off about Memorial Day both in the cave and in Silver Dollar City down about 21 percent. We were proceeding down the tubes every day, getting worse. We began to notice that in changing our rnarketing--by going to the one-tank-away person--it helped. The last figures I got before I left the city today we're that we were down 5 percent for
58 the year but corning up steadily, largely contributed to our marketing program of going after the family just "a tank of gas away" 1 watching the traffic lanes in the short distance one day traveler. As a company, we are very committed to diversifying at every opportunity that we can. Any diversification projects you can develop are well worth looking into. We started what is referred to as the "Ozark Fuel Update" and began to publish it on radio, TV, newspaper--any media we could--polling the area gas stations around Branson. Within a 12-15 mile radius of us there are 39 stations. The news media got ahold, around Memorial Day, that one of the Shell stations in Bansan, was going to be closed on Sunday. They started broadcasting "gas rationing is coming", "allocations running out", "all empty". That Shell station is owned by a man who bought it back in the 1930's. He is a good church goer. They've been going to church every sunday since they bought it, and its the only station traditionally closed on Sunday in Branson. >MARK TWAIN CAVE} Missouri (Bob Boo ar c ) In case YO\.1 don't know, we made the headlines twice this year. First of all, the last Saturday in June we made the front page of the St. Lou is paper. They said Hannibal had no gas. At that time the Lndepend-' ent trucker s were blockading our pipeline terminal up north O~' Hannibal and so we didn I t have any gas for a few days. But whe n the Governor brought out the National Guard and broke the blockade we didn't hear anything about that. The next time was on the 23rd of August when President Carter visited Hannibal and went through our cave. President Carte~ Rosalyn, Amy and their security people--we had about 20 people on the tour--toured the cave. And that was the only tour we had that morning. As far as our business goes it would just be a repeat of everyone else's report. But I do have one success story. Our Cameron Cave was up over 1978. (The Boqairte have two cave operations in the same valley--Mark Twain Cave and Cameron Cave) We figured maybe people might go shorter distances and stay in one spot longer and want to see more, so we offered the second cave on a two-cave discount package deal. Everyone likes to get a bargin. They got a dollar off the Cameron Cave price. So we upld attendance at Cameron Cave 300 percent, but I'm not about to close the Mark Twain Cave. At least having Cameron Cave up was a ray of sunshine. >HOWE CAVERNS} New York (Harrison TeI'k) We were probably a little worse off than most. We had odd-even gas rationing in our area of the east. During Fourth of July we were off 52 percent. Overall, we're going to end up the year 28-30 percent off. power spent We spent sane money on a new generator to supply errergency in the event of a power failure. That was $14,000. And we $15,000 building a guide's room. After Zistening to it alZ, LesteI' B. Dill of MeI'amec Caverns said III've been in the business l onqer than anyone else. One way to look at it is that it is, in a way, a Godsend. This is the first time in 25 years that tae t o e paid fewer taxes! '~
59 BILLBOARD LEGISLATION TOM GIBSON NCA LEGISLATIVE CHAIRMAN A number of years ago at the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Washington, D. C., a Mrs. Johnson, who is a lady lawyer for DOT, climbed allover us (representatives of NeAl for being absolutely like ostriches for sticking our heads in the sand (by insisting that only signs were the answer). And for not trying to look for innovative new approaches to disseminating information to the traveling public. I remember that I replied to Mrs. Johnson that in my judgement on a cost-effective basis, there was no subsititute for the highway sign to reach the traveler on the highway. Evidently that remark must have really gauled them because they engaged a research firm to develop alternative methods of reaching the traveling public other than signs. Shortly after last years NCA Convention in California, I met a Mr. King from this research company. Jerry Cavedo from Luray Caverns was there with me. We met in the new DATO headquarters in Washington, D.C. After a long discussion with this Mr. King, he finally brought forth the plan that they had developed as a viable alternative. It has been touched on once here at this meeting by our friends from Blanchard Springs Cavern. (Richard Mi L l:e : "ramee Rameu who is our administrator at the c cve r'u e .. came up with this Limited freque-nay radio that will b~oadca$t on the AM frequency. As people come into an area they can tune to that frequency .. maybe with the help of a r oadei.qn that tells them to .. and get information about all the facilities in the general area. We are in the process of going into it .. probably with the Ozark Mountain Folk Center up at Mountain View. II) This is a low power carrier transmission radio frequency right at the place of business where you would gather information as to what was happening. He asked if any of our members were currently using this media. I said that as far as I knew, they were not. There are two fatal objections to this system, 1) it wouldn't do any good five miles up the road where you've got to make a right turn instead of a left or go straight ahead, to reach where you're going, and 2) you'd have to have signs up near your place to tell people to tune' in to the right frequency on their radio dial. So you aren't even going to be eliminating signs with this method.
Mr. King was probably in the came up with and we was absolutely neighborhood of shot it down in crushed. I think this contract $80,000. And this is what they two minutes. 60 They are still determined to find some other solution so we are not out of the woods yet on this thing. On April 30, 1979, the Federal Register had an announcement concerning public hearings on a reassessment of the Highway Beautification Program. I had a meeting some weeks ago with Jack Studebaker and he said in dealing with anything in Washington you have to add 2 and 2 together, throw in a little surmise, and hope you come up with 5~, which is reasonably accurate. You can't get a firm handle on anything because nobody knows what their doing. But he said he has been able to detect undercurrents here and there that our friends-the environmentalists--are ve:ry upset with the fact that the specific exemption we (natural wonders) enjoy, is written into the language of the act itself. Its not a matter of administrative criteria or bureaucratic interpretation. Its there in the law. This concerns the environmentalists very much because they canlt get it thrown out unless they change the law. So Jack Studebaker is of the opinion that this latest program concerning the national advisory committee on outdoor advertising and motorist information (members of which are yet to be named) is an effort of the environmentalists to get the Federal highway administration to get our exemption curtailed or thrown out. According to Jack, we have a 50/50 chance of getting represented on this 25-member panel which, hopefUlly, will be of some help to us. Another angle is a movement in Washington to get the whole burden of sign control thrown out and back into the laps of the individual states. I contacted all the members of ourNCA Legislative Commi. t t.ee and the various member s of our NCA Executive Corrmittee, asking for their opinion on this piece of material. Jack Herschend was the only one in favor of it. At the moment, this movement is bogged down in Washington Committee. It really does contain a fatal objection as far as we are concerned, in that, we are protected in the value of our signs now legally in place--protected by the II just compensation" provisions. It is felt that if we did away with the Federal sign law and threw it back into the laps of the states, we would be running a risk of losing the II just compensation" provisions and then the states, as some of them have already expressed a desire to do, would declare that a sign would be declared depreciated 20 percent per year and therefore at the end of 5 years it would have no value and you would have to remove it without compensation. The NCA Monthly Economic Impact Report for July was 24 members reported decreases ranging from 51.30 percent to 8 percent, averaging out at 30.90 percent down. One cave reported break even for 1978; and one of our newest members reported an increase of 10.54 percent (Desoto Caverns), which he attributed to having erected 14 new billboards within 40 miles of his cave.:.
61 RADON UPDATE BILL AUSTIN Because of our (NeA) background and because we got in early on this radon matter, we have a very good working relationship with all the government personnel that are involved with radon. This is a plus. We are coming out ahead, not behind as we did with the billboard problem. There is one exception to this. The National Park Service has been the leader in radon monitoring, looking at the problem, and in my opinion, expanding the problem beyond the normal limits. I think I can safely report that at this point the situation is under control. They realized what is going on and within the NPS the watching over the radon situation has been removed from their research branch and is now with their safety people. The safety people are looking at it strictly as "what do we need to do to protect the health of our employees and the visitors." The NPS draft standards, at the time I talked to Tom Aley a couple of weeks ago I had not become available yet. They are rrovi.nq very slowly with this and we hope the standards they adopt will pretty much be along the lines of the ones we adopted last year. I would like to remind you that this problem boils down to two aspects--there's a real problem, some question of health safety in some caves. The other problem is with the agency people and the possibility of regUlations. I believe everyone should make an effort to bring their cave into line with the precautionary standards of the NCA. You should plan as carefully on the radon issue as you do with your insurance needs. Before the next NCA meeting I'd like to see us have a program where we look at our caves and their radon levels summerand winter, and have everyone look at their employee exposure hours. The news is good really. The Park Service is looking at it realistically. They don't like to spend the money to have these monitoring people running through the caves. The Forest Service has the same problem. And we certainly don't want to spend any more money and time on it than we just have to. Question from the floor: "People are starting to houses underground because of the fuel and energy situation. they have a radon problem with an underground house?" Bill Austin, reply: "I took some radon samples in the atmosphere of the basement of my own home and I found some radon levels high enough that they would expose you to the maximum allowable limits that a uranium miner could get in a year if you spent the whole year in the basement. ".: .. put Will DID YOU SEE THIS LICENSE PLATE ON THE PARKING LOT AT THE NCA CONVENTION? Belongs to Rober-t Bogart, Mark Twain Cave
62 JOE WAGGONER ENERGY, THE NCA AND TOURISM LOST SEA Sweetwater, Tenn. This is a very difficult subject to get a projection on One of the points that was brought out is that when we talk about'_ energy we have to talk about our own personal energy and channel~nq it into some directions. Several people have talked about Leqa slator Energy. If you direct a lot of your energy, 30 minutes or: an hour of your time every two or three weeks, and sit down and drop a note to a Legislator 1 this does a lot of good because if you I r e not screaming at him he won't know who you are. Some people have talked about gasoline stations at their places of business. I don't think I've heard anyone talk about Energy Conservation in their own operation this year. No one has said they have cut back on their travel, or that they had cut back much on their staff, etc. The situation is for us to, not just our customers. It affects us all. I have a quote here from a publication that says "Studies show that tourists want three things: Scenery, history and natural attractions. Most of us have the scenery to go with our natural attractions, and a lot of us have the history to. We run all the in terms of the resource. only space. have what is called a "renewable resource." You can people you want ~hrough your cave--and I know it costs payroll and lighting--but you did not consume any of For all practical purposes you temporarily consumed The taxes that tourists pay is just phenomenal. Here is another quote: "If in industry, 100 new industrial jobs would have necessitated 91 more children in the school system, whereas 100 tourists would have paid enough taxes to educate 156 children. Tourism takes very little money out of your governmental services, disregarding roads / from your standpoint. II As for tourism, we employ 55 percent women and 30 percent youth. It is interesting that 99 percent of the tourist businesses classify as small businesses.
63 There are some things that I can't answer. For instance, everything I read indicates we almost have a glut of gasoline, and a glut of fuel oil for heating this winter. People said that we came into the crunch because last fall with such tremendous gcxx1 weather, that the traveling pUblic rolled right on through the fall traveling much more than normal, and so we consumed gasoline supplies that normally would have been used on into the next year. At this time Sun Oil Company has said they will be supplying 103 percent of last year's allocation. I don't understand it. How we continue to have a gasoline problem and yet allocations are over and above that of last year. I have heard that next year we'll have no problems with gasoline because everyone is running for office. It is an election year. So what thats telling me is that in 1980 I donlt have a problem but in 1981 I'm apt to have a terrible problem because no one is running for election. In Tennessee the problem seemed to develop right after Memorial Day. One of the leaders in taking ahold of the situation was Ruby Falls. Meetings were called. Things were done on a day to day basis. The information was taken to Washington. What was interesting was that in a house organ put out by the State of Tennessee Tourism Department, the tourism department and State took the credit for being the leaders in tackling the problem. That kind of thing bothered me because I knew that they didn't really originate it in Nashville. They say where people will probably be cutting down to offset inflation, is in contributions to charitable organizations, eating out, theatres and books. They have listed, and I quote:"Even in a pinch, most Americans are reluctant to cut expenditures for such practical aspects of their lives as tuition, rent, utility bills and other essentials, including vacation travel. 1I I know we are going to see a change in living styles. As for myself, I own a big house and a big car. 1 1 m going to have to change these things. The American people have spent so many years aligning to their vacation, they feel they have earned the right, and, as I have been reminded, the psychologists state that this is really therapeutic, to get off the job and into a vacation. So I really don't think the vacation, per se, is going to stop. Newspapers have aligned themselves to the point where they feel that TV is a serious problem to them. Almost all of the major newspapers are losing subscribers. One paper, specifically the Miami News" has, quote: "Designed a paper people can read while watching the tube. II That may sound silly but these people did some tremendous research to figure out how to align the newspaper in order to have people half read it. It has been emphasized that one of the things the newspapers have done to crank up subscriptions is that they have added a lot of new features, one of them being recreation and travel columns. These are things people will read<.
64 ENERGY, THE NCA AND TOURISM MARK TR I MBlE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS FARM and FANTASTIC CAVERNS Southwest, Missouri I spent a good share of my summer in 1979 as President of the Missouri Travel Council attending meetings with government agencies, with the Oil Jobbers Association, the Oil Council, and all the various forces that have anything to do with the oil crisis. I found several interesting things and drew my own conclusions. We've seen a 1973 oil crisis. We have seen the 1979 oil crisis. Are we going to see a 1981, 1984 and 1987 crisis? I think we can be reasonably certain we are going to see some more. If that occurs, what can we do about it to protect our own businesses? I have heard many commenting about whether we did indeed have an oil crisis, or if it was manufactured by the government, by the oil industry, or by some other groups? The conclusion I drew from all the meetings I attended in many sections of this country was that yes, we did have an oil crisis. What caused it is relatively simple. First of all, we had a bad winter last year (78-79). When Spring opened up the first thing we noticed was that the average person wanted to drive more. The average family drove about 3 percent more miles in the first few months of 1979 than in 1978. So approximately 3 percent more fuel was consumed just by increased travel. We have a 3.5 percent increase in population. That means 3.5 percent more people out there wanting to consume fuel and each one wanting to consume 3 percent more. This brings us up to 6.5 percent more demand. Iran went out. That was 5 percent of our crude oil. Now werre up to 11.5 percent shortfall. Another factor was that the auto industry was running pretty strong early in 1978 and each of the new cars consumed unleaded fuel. For unleaded gas of 84-87 octane, you get 7 percent less unleaded gas out of each barrel, than you do with the lower grades of gasoline that they are able to doctor up with lead compounds to make them meet the standards that our autorrobiles require.
65 This gives us 18.5 percent shortfall. So now we're getting up into some significant figures. On top of that we had another problem. Old domestic oil is regulated. If you had an oil well in your back yard out in Oklahoma, its regulated to $4-5 per barrel, and even if you drill a new well right beside it and its called "new" oil, that's still severely regulated. But there's no regulation on how much we pay OPEC. If you import new oil you can pay whatever you want whenever you can get it. But if you can produce oil in the United States you are severely regulated. We found that as time passed our oil fields in the United States produced less and less (at about 6 percent less per year) because the oil was running out. They don't want to drill any new oil wells because they want to leave that oil in the ground in the United States until they can get a reasonable price. made oil future? Put all of these things crisis. The question is, together and will it occur you have a ready again in the Everyone says it won't happen in 1980 because its an election year. I don't think the fact that we have an election year is going to alter our population growth, or the deregulation of old oil, or get them to pump a little harder. I don't think it'll effect these circumstances. We have the potential for another oil crisis in 1980. We heard, coming into the year, that there were adequate supplies of crude oil. How much crude oil do you suppose is stored In this country at anyone time? We don't have vast oil reserves sitting in metal tanks somewhere on the Gulf Coast. Theres no point in it. The oil refineries simply bring in oil from the Middle East or domestic producers at approximately the rate that they refine it and pump it out. They can't afford to have huge inventories sitting around because that costs them money in interest. They can't afford the big investment in metal tanks either. At no point in the year is there ever sufficient crude oil storage in this country to go more than a matter of a few days or weeks. If we have a glut of crude oil today we can very easily have a serious shortage tomorrow. Its the rate at which we consume it that creates diff icul ties. Another thing that adds to the problems we are going to face in the future is the single most severe thing, as I see it, and that is the matter of regulation. Th~s is the key to the whole thing ~ The oil industry is severely regulated. You should see the formula for what a gasoline station can sell fuel for. Its complicated. We found a situation the government won't acknOWledge but a situation where the oil--if they have made a profit--what can they do with it? They don't want to put it into the oil industry. Its too severely regulatBd and the return on their investment is below the national average. So they would much rather take those dollars and buy a Montgomery Ward, or something else. Common busi
66 ness judgement and sense. They're going to put it where they can make the best dollar, and that is not in the oil industry. The gas station man is allowed to sell his gas at only a certain margin of profit. Imagine how you'd feel if a government man carne in and gave you a formula for what you could charge for admission to your cave. But, say, he didn't tell you how much you would have to pay your guides, or for your billboards, etc. You'd have a built in problem and that's what the oil industry is facing. We know there are alternatives to our oil problems. The solutions are there but they are costly. Someone has to pay for it and its all more expensive than fossil fuels. Where does this money come from? President Carter says to fund it by the federal government. But the market place has always solved these problems in the past. Why can't it do so now? The reason is that for the federal government to remove regulations and let the market place take ov~let the price of fuel seek a level where industry can justify cranking up the means of finding alternatives--Congress has got to vote to deregulate. The average Congressman can't stand up before Congress, hold up his hand and say II I stand for deregulation .. The voters back home are going to say "You're the jackass that caused my gasoline to go up to $1.50 a gallon. I'm not going to vote for you." And that is the Number One problem today! Fortunately, there are a few brave souls in Congress now that are starting to come out for deregulation. The case for deregulation is very strong. If it happens we'll see the price of our fuel spiral upwards pretty rapidly, probably getting to around $1.50 per gallon. I personally don't think the increase in price is going to hurt us, even in the long run. But we will have to change our marketing strategy to try to sell tickets to people closer to horne. I'll guarantee you that if we don't deregulate and get the oil industry into private alternatives to our fuel problems-the time may corne in 1985 or 1990 that fuel will be so difficult to obtain that travel will be seriously curtailed. What can we do as individual business people if we have another oil crisis? If you live in a terminal or destination area, as we do at Shepherd of the Hills and Fantastic Caverns, you can do as we have done. Pete Herschend at Silver Dollar City conceived the idea last spring of buying gas and subsidizing the gas stations. It wasn't new this year. We discussed it during the 1973 crisis and even bought a boat load of Venezuelan gas that year. So I think Pete1s idea this year was an expansion of our idea in 1973. Pete got into the oil market. And he found another thing that contributed to the fuel crisis. When the investors in this country disc?vere~ that there was going to be a fuel shortage, the brokers got lnto It. If a person had bought a million gallons of gasoline on the open market in February of 1979 and held it until June, he could make one quarter of a million dollars in profit if it went up 25Â¢ a gallon, which it did. So the brokers bought up huge quantities of gasoline to sit on. And that on top of the already short supply of gasoline made it even worse. There is more storage in the gas tanks of automobiles,
67 tractors and trucks in this country than there is in the huge oil refinery tanks. When the average person on the street knew there was going to be a shortage and he filled his gas tank from half full to full overnight, that soaked up the remainder. Pete got the entire Branson community together and we all contributed money to buy gasoline. We found we could go out and buy all the fuel we wanted at $1.05 to $1.08 per gallon. But we could not legally turn around and sell that gasoline for that $1.05 or $1.08. The government would not allow it. So we had to take up to lOÂ¢ per gallon dead loss on the gas we put into pumps in the Branson area. On top of that, thanks to Silver Dollar City, there was a heavy ad campaign throughout our entire market area advertising the fact that there was gas available. The advertising was credible and we did have customers. We were down pretty severely in May and June and early July but by mid July our business was back up to last years level. We had the best August and September we've ever had. If you are out on the highway where you don't have the support of any other people in your area, then you have another problem. We faced that, to a point, at Fantastic Caverns. More so, at any rate, than in the Branson area. There is of another crisis when they get to us. you'll have all the to. nothing we can single handedly do in the event to guarantee people that theylll have gasoline You might put in your own station but then local people out at your place buying your gas tell him of it. The to thing to do now is to contact your Congressman and get oil deregulated. Let the market place take care Our surveys at Fantastic Caverns showed us one thing-that 30 percent of our traffic was transcontinental people going to the East or West coast. These are the long distance travelers. We lost the whole 30 percent. But we discovered we 250 miles. From 250-400 miles they didn1t exist. were up 10 percent in people within we broke even. From 400 miles on, So, when it comes, 250 miles seems to be the magic n~~ Beyond that distance people will Dot go if there is a shortage. This means you can get there on a tank of gas and probably will be able to get a tank to get home OD(. WE'LL BET SOME OF YOU MISSED SEEING THIS LICENSE ON THE PARKING LOT AT THE CONVENTION TO. Belongs to ~Wi9ht Weaver, Bridal Cave,
68 ~, .W AT LAST ... THE ANSWER TO A TOUR GUIDE'S PRAYER! 'little Yeller '. Six of these units are now in use at Squire Boone Caverns. However, the above illustration is not a Squire Boone tour guide! Little Yeller' hooks on belt or hangs comfortably by its neck strap, Light and compact. Mike, on coiled cord, has press-to-talk switch and volume control. A 4 watt personal P.A system that performs for months in ordinary use on 4 standard 9 volt transistor batteries. $114 95 Stainless catches provide easy access to battery com ea. partment. All transistorized circuitry assures long and dependable life. Batteries optional. includes batteries and Bright yellow baked enamel finish lets' Little Yeller' shipping charges. command any situation, HOME SAFETY EQUIPMENT CO., INC. P. O. BOX 560 NEW ALBANY, INDIANA 47150 TOLLFREE ORDER LINE: 1-800-457-2400
Contents: Fuel Shortage 1979 How Bad Was It? --
Billboard Legislation / Tom Gibson --
Radon Update / Bill Austin --
Energy, The NCA and Tourism / Joe Waggoner --
Energy, The NCA and Tourism / Mark Trimble.
Down Underis a publication of the National Caves
Association, a non-profit trade association founded in 1965
by a small group of private show cave owners. These initial
members sought to bring together show cave owners and
operators from across the United States to promote the show
cave industry to the public, to share information and ideas,
and to lobby for legislation favorable to the show cave