Tourism closure extended on tribal land known for waterfalls

June 12, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — A small Native American tribe whose reservation lies deep in a gorge off the Grand Canyon has suspended tourism until February because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Havasupai reservation is renowned for its blue-green waterfalls that draw tourists from around the world. The tribe recently voted to extend the closure of its reservation “in the best interests of the community and tribal members.”

The tribe has reported no cases of the coronavirus. But tribal officials said they are acting out of an abundance of caution because the virus could spread quickly through the tribal village of Supai that’s reachable only by helicopter, foot or mule.

The tribe has been working to get residents vaccinated. The 450 people who live on the reservation have been instructed to stay at home, except to get essential items.

Tourists who booked stays at the tribal lodge or the campground during the suspension will be rescheduled for the same dates in 2022, the tribe said. No further permits will be issued for 2021 or 2022.

Meanwhile, Arizona health officials reported 422 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The number of deaths decreased by two as officials combed over records and removed some duplicates. The statewide death toll from the coronavirus is 17,740.