National parks and several attractions in the USA are likely to be closed today (1 October) after the US government failed to agree a budget last night.
Parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite or attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and Smithsonian Museum are expected to be shut after the US government did not find a resolution to funding by midnight last night.
The government shutdown, the first since 1996, comes after Republicans refused to authorise spending unless health reforms are delayed.
Until an agreement is met, only the country’s ‘essential’ services will continue to function. Flights are thought to be unaffected although it is unclear of the impact on visa services.
The US Travel Association’s president and CEO Roger Dow warned that the economic impact of the shutdown is an “immediate harm” and “serious”.
In a statement, he said: “While our country’s fiscal course is a crucial issue that understandably inflames passions on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans should reach an accord to prevent shutting down the federal government. Previous experience tells us that a shutdown unnecessarily disrupts economic activity in communities large and small that depend upon travel spending for employment and tax revenue. The closure of national parks and federal historic sites to millions of travellers, coupled with the general perception of an uncertain travel process, would do serious and immediate harm to the economy.”
He added: “Travel, our country’s No.1 services export and an industry that has added jobs at a rate three times faster than the economy as a whole since 2010, is particularly vulnerable to the perception that a disruption of services will make our customer experience go less than smoothly. While we recognise that basic travel functions will continue, we are concerned that federal agencies will quickly be forced to implement shutdown policies that will damage the travel experience and derail long-term, bipartisan investments in our travel infrastructure. We urge our leaders to tackle changes to the federal balance sheet that will let our economic recovery continue unimpeded. The travel industry stands ready to assist with that process in whatever way we can.”