With government’s spending authority ending at midnight Friday, Congress will be scrambling to work out a budget deal that would stave off a partial federal shutdown starting as early as Saturday
And as this USA TODAY story points out, the travel impacts could be severe and wide-ranging if a compromise fails, from closed gates at the Grand Canyon and hundreds of 0ther national parks to the inability to get or renew a passport.
During previous shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996, air traffic controllers and other essential workers stayed on the job. But about 200,000 travelers were left waiting for passports when the State Department stopped processing applications.
Park Service closed 368 sites, losing 7 million visitors. National monuments and museums were closed to another 2 million.
A new shutdown could affect even more; 18 million people visited parks last March, says John Garder of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association.
“People will be outraged,” he tells USA TODAY. “Not only would a government shutdown jeopardize family trips and school field trips to places like the Statue of Liberty, we are concerned it would have a significant impact on the local communities and businesses that depend on tourism.”
Utah’s five national parks, seven national monuments and two national recreation areas are mainstays of the state’s $6.3 billion tourism industry, notes KSL.com. If they close, tourists “might decide to either postpone or change (vacation plans) all together,” says Keith Griffall of Western Leisure, a company that runs motorcoach tours.
And Jim Dinegar, CEO of the Washington, D.C. Board of Trade, told The Hill that since a shutdown of monuments and Smithsonian museums would coincide with a peak visitation period, tourism revenue could decline between 30 and 40 percent.
“I unfortunately do expect a government shutdown,” Dinegar added. “I think the differences are too great for both sides to reach a compromise.”
One attraction that wouldn’t be affected: Washington’s cherry blossoms, which usually peak at the end of March or early April.
So, readers, tell us: Were your travels curtailed by the last government shutdown, and would another one alter your plans?