US government shutdown has impact on tourism

Tourists are seeing the effects of the longest US government shutdown in the nation’s history, say reports.

The Daily Telegraph and Guardian say that queues at some airports have been getting longer, and famous attractions are closed.

Immigration at Tampa airport, for example, was described by one Briton living in the US as “dire”, said the Telegraph.

The Guardian reported that Transportation Security Administration employees are among those whose work is deemed essential, meaning they must continue to report for work – without pay.

However, many TSA employees have been calling in sick in unprecedented numbers.

The National Park Service – which runs famous tourist sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon – has been affected because 16,000 people have been laid off during the shutdown.

The Guardian said some national parks and monuments have closed, while others have reduced levels of staff, “only to witness vandalism, delayed emergency responses and an overflow of trash”.

Joshua Tree National Park (pictured) was closed recently after officials reported vandalism to a Joshua tree, as well as other maintenance and sanitation problems.

“All branches of the Smithsonian – 17 museums and galleries in Washington DC, the National Zoo, and two museums in New York City – are closed. That includes destination tourism sites such as the African American Museum, the Air and Space Museum and the National History Museum,” said the Guardian.

Jonathan Grella, the US Travel Association executive vice president, said: “It is now plainly evident that the shutdown is affecting air travel, and when that happens, damage to the overall US economy will shortly follow.

“Travel supports $2.4 trillion in economic activity and one in nine American jobs, and is a top-10 employer in 49 states, so any slowdown in that sector risks an economic cost that could be felt in every corner of the country.”

A spokesman for the American Hotel and Lodging Association told the Telegraph there are anecdotal reports that the shutdown is affecting hotels in cities such as Washington DC.

The US government is partially shut because of a row over border security and President Trump’s plans for a wall on the border with Mexico.

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