Government shutdown impacts tourism

October 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Golden Eagle Charter Services Inc. had two charter buses scheduled to take school children on a three-day trip to Yosemite National Park Tuesday.

General Manager Bobbie Wise said the buses headed towards Yosemite as planned, but the plans were slightly tweaked.

"They're going to Sugar Pine Railroad and do some rides there," Wise said, "then go to Bass Lake and do some hiking and try to find other things to do."

That's because Yosemite closed Tuesday. Sequoia National Park is closed as well along with all other parks across the U.S. because of the Government Shutdown.

Golden Eagle Charter Services is scheduled to take four more buses of students to Yosemite Wednesday, and more tours are scheduled in the coming weeks.

"I'm hoping they don't cancel any buses," Wise said. "Parks are really popular not only with school kids but with tourists coming in to see Yosemite. So I would say it could hurt us like 30 percent of our business."

So far Golden Eagle Charter Services haven't had any cancellations. Others in the travel and tourism industry aren't so lucky.

The Executive Director of Sales at Pro-Travel in Fresno says they've had more than half a dozen cancellations ? trips planned for the national parks. Pro-Travel is in the business of booking tours and they say trips to Sequoia and Yosemite make up a quarter of their business.

Jarrod Lyman with the Yosemite Sierra Visitor's Bureau says the financial impact will be minimal if the parks reopen in a few days. But if the Parks remain closed for weeks, businesses will take a hit.

"Our hotels are seeing cancellations, people are concerned about their vacations," Lyman said. "The life blood of this region is tourism so just about every business caters to tourists or they cater to people who do cater to tourists so there's definitely going to be that impact felt through the entire economy if this doesn't resolve itself soon."

Lyman says Yosemite National Park saw 37,200 visitors in the month of October 2012. According to their studies, the average person spends about $150 dollars a night while visiting. If those visitors are lost for the whole month or even weeks, it would mean millions of dollars the local economy would miss out on.


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