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Counting the Final Cost of the Government ShutdownOctober 17, 2013 By: Newswire Travel Agent
The U.S. Travel Association praised the White House and Congress for bringing an end to the federal shutdown that had crippled much of the country's travel economy since October 1. The crisis ended last night night with votes in the Senate and House to end the shutdown and avoid a fiscal crisis.
"America's travel community thanks President Obama and congressional leaders for reaching bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and end the hemorrhaging of dollars and jobs that threatened to hobble the United States travel economy," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow.
"The shutdown's damage cannot be undone, but reopening the government will allow America's travel community to get back to work and continue to drive U.S. economic recovery," Dow said.
Reopening the federal government will end the estimated loss of $152 million per day in travel-related economic output and provide increased financial security to as many as 450,000 American workers who are supported by travel, the association says.
Travel is America's No.1 services export, and the travel industry has added jobs at a rate three times faster than the rest of the economy since recovery began in 2010.
Though services such as security screening and air traffic control were largely unaffected by the shutdown, the closure of national parks and historic sites severely harmed the many local economies that depend upon visitors to those destinations.
During the shutdown, countries such as Germany, the U.K. and China—which together account for more than five million visitors to the U.S. annually—issued warnings to their citizens about possible shutdown-related problems and delays when traveling to and within the U.S. Dow warned that the shutdown likely will have long-term consequences for the United States' brand in the competitive international travel market.
"Economies hate uncertainty," Dow said. "Now that the shutdown has been concluded, the best thing our federal policymakers can do for our economy is to pursue a long-term fiscal plan that includes commitments to invest in our country's aging travel infrastructure."
Dow also hailed comments from President Obama that the shutdown's end will allow him to return focus to pursuing an immigration reform package.
"Immigration reform was among the constructive legislative efforts that unfortunately were derailed by the shutdown," Dow said. "The travel community strongly supported the package that has already been passed by the Senate, and we have every confidence that leaders in the House will move forward on this important issue."
The lodging industry also weighed in on the shutdown's end. Urging Congress to seek long-term solutions to nation’s fiscal problems, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) commended the U.S. Congress on passage of legislation that ends the government shutdown and avoids the imminent breach of the debt ceiling.
“After 16 long days of uncertainty, the loss of $115.2 million in economic activity in the lodging industry, and billions of dollars more in lost collective income and visitor spending, hoteliers across America are grateful Congress and the President have finally come to the table and passed a bipartisan bill to end the government shutdown,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president and CEO.
“We urge policymakers to take these next few months to engage in a serious dialogue to find a meaningful and long-lasting solution to the fiscal issues still facing this country – solutions that will allow the lodging industry to continue its role as a major driver of economic growth and job creation," Lugar said.