Mon July 12, 2010
Hualapais expand Grand Canyon West
By Daniel Kraker
Flagstaff, AZ – Grand Canyon West is the Hualapai tribe's tourist development on the far western side of the Grand Canyon. The big attraction is the Skywalk, a glass bottomed walkway that juts out four thousand feet above the Colorado River.
Currently about a half million people come every year. But tribal officials expect that number to grow. The longer air strip will allow for air tours from southern California. And when a new bypass around the Hoover Dam is completed by the end of the year, the drive from Las Vegas will be much quicker.
Waylan Honga is the Chief Operations Officer for the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation.
"Tourism is our number one econ generator. Revenue raised helps fund kids to go to school, maintain roads, elderly programs, youth and recreation, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling."
Honga says it can be a tough balance to welcome tourists to a sovereign reservation.
"It's only a fraction of our million acre reservation where we're allowing customers to come in and see the beauty of the Grand Canyon. It helps Hualapai tribal members to swallow that pill, of opening up our reservation. In reality we're opening up a very small fraction of our reservation to the world."
Honga says future plans at Grand Canyon West include a hotel, restaurant and golf course. But first they need to build water, sewer and other infrastructure.