US Government shutdown: Their row, our holidays

State workers deserve sympathy, but so do tourists who will be affected

Share
Related Topics

The best decision of the day in Washington DC? National Geographic’s bright idea to invite “all furloughed government employees and the general public” to visit the Museum in the US capital for free. Waiving the normal $11 admission gives some federal employees sent home on unpaid leave something to do – and provide foreign visitors with possibly the only sightings of America’s great outdoors they will get while the shutdown prevails.

The 800,000 workers tangled in the infantile bickering in the US Congress deserve sympathy – but so do the rather more numerous tourists who will be directly affected by the shutdown.

When, in 1908, Theodore Roosevelt described the Grand Canyon as “The one great sight which every American must see,” he could not have envisaged how planet Earth’s spectacular wound would become a target for tourists from across the world. But the tens of thousands from Australia, Brazil and Britain who turn up at the park gate today will be sent on their way while American politics plumbs the depths of absurdity.

As a direct result of Republican opposition to the president’s health-care reforms, the National Park Service contingency plan has come into effect. “Day-use visitors will be instructed to leave the park immediately,” it stipulates. Guests staying at the Grand Canyon’s park lodges and campgrounds have been given 48 hours to get out, before “Park roads will be closed and access will be denied”.

Staffing for a park the size of Norfolk (and scenically even more interesting) “will be maintained at the very minimum for the protection of life, property, and public health and safety”. Happy holidays.

At least in Arizona there is much else to see, including some stunning State Parks that will remain open. But across in the great governmental theme park that is Washington DC, the main attractions are locked and barred because of the unseemly row on Capitol Hill. As the Washington Post succinctly put it: “If it’s usually free, it’s probably closed”.

From the Freedom Trail in Boston to the San Francisco Bay, UK tourists find they are trapped in a nation on life-support – with not even the option of an escape to Alcatraz open to them.

We love America - its people, its history and its landscapes. But once again the tolerance of the British, who remain the most loyal of overseas visitors to the US, is being tested.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee