On the morning of Oct. 1, after Congress and the Senate failed to come to an agreement on a spending bill, parts of the government deemed nonessential for operations officially shut down—and the impact could have lasting effects for the hospitality and tourism industries.
“Hoteliers are creating jobs at a pace well beyond that of the general private sector workforce, and continue to contribute to the overall health of the economy,” says Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA). “However, for each day the government is shut down, more than $8 million in economic activity at our nation’s hotels will be lost, putting jobs at risk and causing repercussions across many other related sectors.
The shutdown will force national parks to close and the Smithsonian museums will also cease operations. Visitors in hotels and campgrounds already staying overnight on National Park Service grounds will be allowed a transition of one or two days to exit.
According to Joan Anzelmo, a former National Park Service park superintendent and spokesperson for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) the shutdown “will require furloughing people who fight explosive wildfires, save lives in outdoor accidents, rescue injured climbers on mountain peaks, search for lost children, respond to terrorist threats, protect US borders, and rush into places devastated by hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods.”
“The closure of national parks and federal historic sites to millions of travelers—coupled with the general perception of an uncertain travel process—[will] do serious and immediate harm to the economy,” says Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association. “While we recognize 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.”
It is not known how long the shutdown will last, but Moody’s Analytics predicts that a two-week shutdown would cut 0.3 percent off U.S. GDP, while a month-long outage would knock a whole 1.4 percent off growth.
This is the first shutdown since 1995-1996, when Bill Clinton and the House of Representatives failed to agree on a budget to fund federal services.
“We urge the President and Congress to come to an agreement immediately to provide the fiscal certainty necessary for continued economic growth within the lodging sector and our economy at large,” says Lugar.
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