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Opinion - Travelers Punished for Government ShutdownOctober 3, 2013 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Photo by Bernt Rostad
As the partial shutdown of the Federal government enters its third day, it seem that the government is determined to make domestic and international travelers pay.
"Each day of this Congressional impasse is a tourism nightmare, with angry customers, reduced visitation and loss of income. Congress created the shutdown, and only Congress can end it," NTA president Lisa Simon said, urging NTA members to contact officials in Washington.
One little noticed closing is the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) whose worldwide sites commemorate the service and achievements of the U.S. armed forces in World War I and II.
The ABMC said that ABMC cemeteries and memorials - popular international sites - are temporarily closed, due to a lack of funding for ABMC operations.
"ABMC will resume normal operations when a new funding measure is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President of the United States."
Established by Congress in 1923, the ABMC manages 24 overseas military cemeteries, and 26 memorials, monuments, and markers. The ABMC is an agency of the executive branch of the federal government.
The closing of Washington D.C.'s World War II Memorial has garnered nationwide media attention as several tour groups of veterans ignored barriers and entered the memorial.
But the Associated Press reports closings have spread to France and the D-Day memorials. The AP notes that travelers to Omaha Beach to pay their respects to the 9,387 military dead at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial will find it closed, a victim of the U.S. government’s partial shutdown.
The site overlooking the D-Day invasion beaches is one of 24 U.S. military cemeteries overseas that have closed to visitors since Monday, the AP reports. Ten more cemeteries in in France, as well as others in various European countries as well as Mexico, Panama, Tunisia and the Philippines, will remain closed for the duration of the shutdown.
The cemeteries are maintained by the ABMC.
The National Park Service (NPS) notes that because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not available.
NPS reports it hosts 282 million people per year and more than 715,000 people per day in October. These visitors also spend $76 million per day. NPS is part of the Department of the Interior.
The impacts, according to the NPS, include 15,000 a day facing reservations cancelled at New York's Statue of Liberty alone. The NPS estimates $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees. There are 401 national parks, the NPS says. Visit www.doi.gov
Members of the NTA (formerly the National Tour Association) are also hurt by the closings as many NTA members offer tours to National Parks.
While every U.S. city's tourism will likely be touched by the government shutdown, NTA notes that Washington, D.C., will be especially hard hit. NTA is providing a daily online update on the crisis.