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US Government shutdown has hit tourist attractions

October 2, 2013 Destination North America, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Tourism to the US will continue more or less unaffected by a shutdown that will close many US federal agencies, but travellers may have to be flexible with their itineraries.

The shutdown – similar to the Senate blocking supply in Australia – began yesterday, triggered by a stand-off between Republicans and Democrats over president Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform, nicknamed Obamacare. The shutdown has closed popular attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park.

US visas (for any Australians who still need them, such as those seeking to work in the US) should be issued as usual in Australia. US passport holders, on the other hand, may face delays in the US because passport workers there are not considered essential.

While essential workers such as air-traffic controllers and Homeland Security screeners at US airports will remain on duty, travellers could face hitches and delays.

The shutdown could have unpredictable effects on exchange rates in coming days (or weeks) as investors and global markets weigh up its effects. So far so good, from an Australian perspective. The Australian dollar rose slightly overnight and at 0555 AEST this morning (Wednesday), was trading at 93.23 US cents.

US embassies and consulates around the world will remain open and airlines expect business to continue as usual, but US National Parks will close because they are administered by the US government. Yellowstone Park, for instance, will close. Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, favoured by cruise ships sailing the Inside Passage, will remain open to ships, but park services will be closed.

Websites giving information about US Government-owned attractions may also close. The US National Park website this morning (Wednesday), carries the notice: “Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating.”

In Hawaii:

All National Parks in Hawaii have been closed, including:

• Ala Kahakai National Historic Trails, Hawaii Island
• Haleakala National Park, Maui
• Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island
• Kalaupapa National Historic Park, Molokai
• Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii Island
• Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, Hawaii Island
• Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaii Island
• USS Arizona Memorial, Oahu
• USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Oahu

In addition, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Centre on Maui and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai have been closed. The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and Battleship Missouri Memorial on Oahu will remain open, the Hawaii Tourism Authority advises.

All Hawaii’s state and county parks, beaches and trails remain open and the state’s airports are not affected.

Back on the US mainland:

US government-owned museums like the Smithsonian in Washington DC and attractions such as the Statue of Liberty will also close, because Government employees running them will not be paid. In Washington DC, all 19 museums and galleries run by the Smithsonian Institution will close, as will the National Zoo.

Tourists will be able to sail past the Statue of Liberty but not go inside (the same situation that prevailed for a long time after the 9/11 attacks on New York).

US passenger rail network Amtrak “will continue normal operation of its national intercity and high-speed passenger rail network in the event of a short-term federal government shutdown,” it said in a statement issued yesterday.

“Passengers planning to travel on Amtrak trains in the Northeast Corridor and across the country in the coming days and weeks can be assured that Amtrak will remain open for business.”

The shutdown will put up to 800,000 US federal employees out of work. During the last US government shutdown (two periods that totalled 26 days in late 1995 and early 1996) the closure of 368 National Park Service sites meant a loss of 7 million visitors, as well as a loss of tourism dollars to local communities, America’s Christian Science Monitor newspaper reports.

The shutdown centres on President Obama’s introduction of a healthcare program, rather like Australia’s Medicare, in the US.

An estimated 72% of voters oppose Congress shutting down the federal government in an attempt to block the health law, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. American voters will be able to deliver their verdict on the shutdown in the Congressional midterm elections next year.

On top of all that, Obamacare is still running, irrespective of the shutdown.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Rob Golley says:

    Looks like the American people, the 72% that oppose the irresponsible shut down of non essential governments services will get a chance to “boot out” the Republicans next year. Lets hope they don’t force a further deterioration of the American economy.
    No doubt the potential loss of many millions of tourists to the US will be remembered.
    If like Australia, the voting public and business sectors will not forget this treachery by the Republicans.

  2. Ls.ross says:

    Obama is refusing to negotiate and is costing the taxpayers more money by closing, fencing, and staffing security around areas usually not secured. He’s applying pressure by affecting vacationers, etc. He’s manipulating the situation to make it look like the Republicans are at fault. Congress shouldn’t fund a program they find faulty. What is wrong with funding individual programs like the VA or head start separately?

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