The October 1, 2013, U.S. government shutdown translates into disrupted travel plans across the nation. Travelers, whether domestic or international, with plans to visit American national parks, federal historic sites, and museums run by the Smithsonian are encountering CLOSED signs and disappointment.
In a September 30, 2013, statement, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, pointed out that travel, a leading export for the U.S. economy, is negatively and pivotally impacted by a government shutdown. He stated, “While our country’s fiscal course is a crucial issue that understandably inflames passions on both sides of the aisle . . . 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.”
Closures of national parks and museums ripple across local economies
Were you hoping to visit Yellowstone to catch the autumn elk rut? Were plans to leaf peep in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the itinerary? Did you plan to hike or camp in Yosemite, Arches, or Canyonlands? Did you plan to visit the Freer Gallery or the National Zoo? Then, the impact on your travel plans is immediate as those national parks and institutions are closed in response to the federal government’s shutdown.
And, as Roger Dow indicates, “The closure of national parks and federal historic sites to millions of travelers—coupled with the general perception of an uncertain travel process” creates a situation that ripples into “serious and immediate harm to the economy,” especially those local businesses dependent upon national park tourism. He warns, “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.
Disruption of services damages a pivotal American industry
David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association, pointed out the importance and vulnerabilities of the travel industry. He highlights that “Travel, our country’s No.1 services export . . . added jobs at a rate three times faster than the economy as a whole since 2010.” He highlights that “Travel jobs have made up more than six percent of total jobs added in 2013” and the “travel industry has, on average, created more than 12,000 jobs a month thus far in 2013.”
But, travel is an industry vulnerable to perceptions, and Roger Dow warns “a disruption of services will make our customer experience go less than smoothly . . . 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.”
Travelers have choices
Travel experiences fraught with delays, whether in the issuing of passports and visas, the closure of vacation destinations, or the cancelation of events, all combine to create disruption and disappointment. Travelers have choices. If thwarted or wary travelers decide to cancel or change travel plans, businesses dependent upon U.S. travel face frustration and clear, negative impacts.
National and International Travel and Recreation as well as National Education and Industry materials come from a husband and wife creative team, who travel extensively as photonaturalists and writers. One is an experienced research scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE (Global Knowledge Exchange), who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Tech&Learning Teacher of the Year.
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