The U.S. travel economy is being held hostage and it’s time for it to stop. For two weeks now certain members of Congress have been playing an unfair game of politics and the so called ‘shutdown’ is starting to significantly affect the travel economy. And with the travel industry finally back on its feet, those in charge of the U.S. Government owe it to the American people to stop bickering and solve the problems they were elected to deal handle.
If not, they will continue damaging the lives of hundreds of thousands of people that depend on travel for their financial livelihood.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, the partial government shutdown is costing the U.S. $152 million a day in economic output due to lost travel-related activity and is also taking a financial toll on what the Association believes is up to 450,000 American workers directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry. These are not the workers that are furloughed, but additional travel industry jobs.
"The government shutdown is throttling America's travel sector, which, until now, has been one of the principal drivers of U.S. economic recovery," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. "Shutting down the government is damaging, and every day the government remains closed compounds the very real consequences. America's travel leaders call on the President and Congress to reach an agreement to immediately reopen the government and keep it open."
At the end of last week the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and hoteliers from across the country sent a letter to President Barack Obama and all 535 members of the United States Congress pressing for what they called a “swift, bipartisan resolution”.
Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO said that President Obama and Congress must conclude this drawn out stand-off to stop the damage occurring to what many feel is a fragile U.S. economy.
“For every day that passes that President Obama and Congress are not at the negotiating table seeking an end to this crisis, the American economy - and the lodging industry – continue to suffer,” said Lugar. “Hoteliers are a major economic driver and job creator across the country, and the industry’s ability to continue its growth is hamstrung by inaction from our policymakers. The administration, House of Representatives, and Senate need to act swiftly in the best interests of the entire nation and end this shutdown.”
The AH&LA and Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, has noted that the economy will take a $50 billion hit if the shutdown extends to one month.
Already, hotels across the United States are losing more than $57.6 million in economic activity for each week the shutdown continues those parties note. This, along with the $200 million per day in collective American income that is being lost, puts jobs at risk and has a ripple effect through other lodging-related sectors.
Communities near national parks are being hit especially hard and are seeing the loss of $76 million per day in visitor spending in and near the parks and the cancelation of thousands of trips and hotel reservations.
October happens to be a massive month for people traveling to national parks which see about 700,000 visitors every single day.
In much of the northern portion of the U.S., fall foliage sparks peak visitation. Acadia National Park and Shenandoah National Park are among the closed parks, resulting in major adverse consequences for nearby communities.
Further, spending supports tens of thousands of jobs and generates millions of dollars daily in state and local sales and lodging taxes.
Closure of the parks costs the National Park Service an estimated $500,000 daily in entrance and recreation fees, fees normally retained at park units to support visitor experiences.
“In national parks, concessioners are losing an estimated $5 million per day and are being forced to lay off thousands of employees,” said Derrick Crandall, Counselor to the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA). “They face large new expenses of contacting guests with reservations for the next month to cancel those reservations and of processing refunds. They are dealing with angry guests. This weekend alone, there [was] 300-400 weddings long-planned that [were] either canceled or moved to another, less desirable venue. They are working with businesses that had planned to bring hundreds of busloads of international guests to the parks. They are managing hundreds of young people, whom they need as employees if they are to reopen, but who are either going unpaid or on sharply reduced hours. Plus these young people are being told by National Park Service to not go for hikes or use the parks in any way.”
We already know NY State is kicking in $61,600 a day out of the state’s tourism budget to reopen the park surrounding the Statue of Liberty. The state is losing out on far more cash with a closure.
"Just on the economics of the matter, it makes obvious sense for us to pay for the costs of operation, which pales in comparison to the amount of money we are now losing," NY Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.
According to a statement from Cuomo, a 2012 annual report from the National Park Service counted 3.7 million visitors to Liberty Island in 2011, generating nearly $200 million in economic activity and supporting more than 2,000 jobs. That’s almost $548,000 every day of the year.
To help show your anger, Marriott International and Starbucks are partnering on a petition everyone can sign to share their displeasure on this issue. The Come Together petition was designed to let government know it is time to fully reopen the government, work out a deal to pay America’s debts and not fall into default and for Congress to work out a comprehensive budget agreement before the end of the year.
That petition is available here: http://www.cometogetherpetition.com/
I signed my name, will you?