Simon Calder: What effect will the US shutdown have on British tourists travelling to America?
The closure of so many key attractions is likely to put pressure on the museums and galleries which are open
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 01 October 2013
From the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, the shutdown of large parts of the US government will bring disappointment and disruption to millions of tourists - many of them British.
A leading travel agent, Haydn Wrath of Travel Nation, said: "This is a classic example of how brinkmanship can produce a ridiculous lose-lose solution. Our customers, along with all other British tourists in the USA, will be mystified and disappointed as they see their carefully researched and planned trips to this fantastic country wrecked."
The US Congress row over funding and health care will have the most concentrated tourism impact on the American capital. Barricades started going up shortly after midnight, local time, to block access to the Lincoln Memorial and the war memorials of Washington DC.
All 17 Smithsonian museums in the capital, as well as the National Zoo, are closed indefinitely. On an average October day, 100,000 visitors would be expected to the Smithsonian Mall - with the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History and the Natural History Museum the most popular attractions.
The Washington Monument, the 555-foot symbol of the capital, is currently closed due to damage from an earthquake two years ago.
In New York, Liberty Island - location for the Statue of Liberty - will be off-limits for the duration of the shutdown. The American Indian Museum in lower Manhattan is also closed because it is part of the federal-funded Smithsonian.
In Boston and Philadelphia, the key locations in the story of American independence will also be closed, including the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The closure of so many key attractions is likely to put pressure on the museums and galleries which are open, as tourists search for alternatives to their planned visits.
October is a popular month for visiting America's greatest National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. Workers at these locations were told to turn up for work at 6am, spending no more than four hours in securing property, re-directing emails and clearing their desks.
During an average October, the 400-plus elements of the US National Park system welcome nearly 25 million visitors.
There is some hope that tourists who have planned the trip of a lifetime to the Grand Canyon may still be able to visit. When the US government last closed down, 18 years ago, the state of Arizona paid to keep the most popular areas of its flagship National Park open. Helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon will continue.
Queues for US immigration could get even longer than usual. The 1.8 million passengers who fly from American airports each day may face extended lines for searches if the Transportation Security Administration makes staff reductions.
Most British holidaymakers whose trips are disrupted have little hope of compensation. Those who have booked package holidays focused on specific locations may be entitled to a full or partial refund, but independent travellers who make their own arrangements have no such entitlement.
There could be benefits for tourists who bid their time before going west, according to Haydn Wrath of Travel Nation: "The only winners will be those who travel after everything has re-opened, as dollars will likely be cheaper following the impact this will have on the US economy."
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 4 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
- 5 Cristiano Ronaldo storms out of interview after being asked about possible sale of Manchester United target Sergio Ramos
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Eiji Tsuburaya: Godzilla co-creator honoured in today's interactive Google Doodle
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...