Budget row closes US tourism attractions
Tourists will not able to visit many landmarks, from Yosemite National Park to the Statue of Liberty
People look at a sign informing them that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to the government shutdown in Battery Park, New York yesterday. Photograph: Getty Images.
The US government shutdown has closed national parks and monuments, partially affected federal services and put hundreds of thousands of government employees on unpaid leave.
Tourists travelling to the United States will not able to visit some of the country’s best known landmarks, from Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon in California to the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Signs posted outside monuments and tourist attractions along the National Mall in Washington yesterday informed tourists that the shutdown had closed the Smithsonian museums and galleries, and other visitor centres that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to the US capital.
The cost of the shutdown and the knock-on effect on US individuals and businesses that rely on tourism is estimated to run to hundreds of millions of dollars for every week government is closed.
The closures came as the federal shutdown took affect just after midnight yesterday, keeping 783,0000 non-essential government workers at home on unpaid leave.
Hundreds of thousands more federal employees, including air traffic controllers, airport security staff and border patrol officers, were required to work without pay, leaving travel unaffected.
Mr Obama and members of Congress will continue to be paid through the shutdown.
The IRS tax authority has suspended audits, no new applications will be accepted for social welfare or medical assistance and government-backed loans will stop being provided to families and businesses.
Among the other casualties was the popular “panda cam” at the National Zoo in Washington, a live camera feeding images of the giant pandas Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and their unnamed newborn cub.
Two playgrounds in Lincoln Park, just 10 blocks from the Capitol, that are popular with families on Capitol Hill including the children of Congressional staff, were also among the facilities affected.