West Glacier businesses meet with Daines to discuss GNP opening date

A handful of West Glacier businesses met with Montana Sen. Steve Daines on Friday to express frustration and concern over an opening date for Glacier National Park.

MTN spoke with Gary Hamilton who is the CEO of Hamilton Group Limited, a souvenir manufacturing company that relies on Glacier Park tourism.

“With respect to the park we’re in a very difficult situation,” he said. “The park is not open and they’re hopeful for some time of reopening in June. A lot of the customers we deal with in and around Glacier are either putting their business with us on hold or canceled it off.”

He said that the usual summer tourist traffic just isn’t happening.

“Not only do we have to lay some people off but if we don’t have the revenue coming in that we normally would anticipate,” said Hamilton. “It has an effect on our infrastructure as far as how much inventory to maintain, how much inventory do we bring in.”

Daines explained how important having access to tourism during these crucial months are for these businesses.

“It’s such an important part of our economy here in Montana especially with a relatively short summer season,” Daines said.

Nic Lee, founder of Glacier Distillery, explained how frustrating it is not to have a set opening date. Without a date, Lee is struggling to prepare for tourist season.

“We need to plan and we have a very short window to execute a very large amount of business,” said Lee. “And not being able to plan and staff up is difficult.”

Lee hopes in June the distillery can open its tasting room for guests with appropriate social distancing.

Daines assured all businesses that attended he’ll work with officials to nail down a date for when Glacier National Park will reopen.