U.S. travel industry leaders universally condemned the decision to partially shut down the federal government, and on Tuesday, the first day of the shutdown, they pleaded with Congress to reopen federal government operations as soon as possible in order to avoid what they said would be extensive damage to the U.S. travel industry.
"The shutdown will disrupt recent economic progress and job creation, of which the lodging industry has played a significant role," said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. "For each day the government is shut down, more than $8 million in economic activity at our nation's hotels will be lost, putting jobs at risk and causing repercussions across many other related sectors.
Global Gateway Alliance Chairman Joseph Sitt, whose group is a nonprofit advocacy organization for improvements to New York City-area airports, blasted the furloughs given Tuesday to about 100 New York-area airport inspectors.
"It defies common sense for the Federal Aviation Administration to determine that these safety inspectors are somehow not 'essential,'" Sitt said Tuesday. "We can't imagine anything more essential, and we demand that the FAA bring these inspectors back to work to ensure the safety of passengers."
With Congress failing to reach an agreement to fund the federal government by Oct. 1, more than 400 National Park Service sites were shuttered
, including New York's Statue of Liberty and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in addition to federally-operated museums.
The State Department stated that "in the event of a lapse in appropriations, the Department of State will continue passport and visa operations as well as provide critical services to U.S. citizens overseas." It also said to "check back for updates to the situation." Amtrak is expected to remain funded, as are the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and air traffic control.
Tourism leaders from individual states also weighed in.
"Visitors to and travelers throughout California spend $292 million each day, $12.1 million every hour, or $202,000 every minute," said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. "Our national parks, public lands and surrounding gateway areas are major contributors to these figures, and the effects of this shutdown will be felt immediately in these communities."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Travel Association had already gone on record before the shutdown went to effect Tuesday as saying closures would cause "serious and immediate harm" to the domestic economy.
"Travel, our country's No.1 services export and an industry that has added jobs at a rate three times faster than the economy as a whole since 2010, is particularly vulnerable to the perception that a disruption of services will make our customer experience go less than smoothly," U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow said Monday. Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.