In October 2013, Congress shut down the federal government for 16 days while it was engaged in a budget standoff. Now, it's threatening to do it again. If it does, it would cost the U.S. travel sector at least $185 million per day in economic output due to lost travel activity, according to an analysis published yesterday by the U.S. Travel Association, which estimates that 530,000 travel-related jobs would be affected due to temporary layoffs, reduced wages, and fewer hours worked.
The last government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $152 million per day and affected as many as 450,000 American workers supported directly or indirectly by the travel industry.
"Political leaders need to understand that there are real-world consequences to these arguments that go on in the halls of power," U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. "I realize that each side feels passionately about their respective position, but frankly there's just no excuse for letting the fiscal year expire without a budget when we know that people's very livelihood, their ability to feed their families, is at stake."
Especially vulnerable are the nation's 408 national park sites.
"Many regional economies are almost entirely dependent upon visitors to nearby national parks to support restaurants, lodging establishments, and other businesses, and the jobs they provide," U.S. Travel explained. "The shuttering of national parks due to the 16-day budget stalemate of October 2013 directly reduced travel spending by $680 million, U.S. Travel calculated, or nearly $43 million per day. During that shutdown, countries such as Germany, the U.K. and China -- which together account for more than eight 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. Even once resolved, such episodes can inflict lasting damage upon the U.S.'s brand in the competitive international travel marketplace."
At the center of this year's shutdown showdown is women's reproductive health: Republicans insist that any new government budget should include a provision defunding women's health care provider Planned Parenthood, citing concerns over the group's controversial abortion services; Democrats disagree and have called the debate a partisan distraction.