Congress has damaged tourism
Government shutdown hurts economy, makes us a laughingstock internationally
A relative who lives back east flew to Southern California last week to visit her sister and take a drive to Joshua Tree National Park.
But like everybody who tried to visit a national park, monument or recreation area, they couldn’t get in because of the federal government shutdown.
The shutdown continued as I wrote this column. It may be over by the time it is published, but irreparable damage was done to the tourism industry as soon as the first closed sign was posted. Every member of Congress is responsible.
Tourism leaders have worked hard to position Southern Nevada not only as a gaming and entertainment destination but as a hub to explore the raw beauty of the American West. Within an easy drive of Las Vegas are Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Zion, Great Basin and the Grand Canyon.
Congress did a fantastic job passing the Travel Promotion Act, which led to the development of Brand USA, a tourism initiative designed to encourage international travel to the United States.
But those same lawmakers face planted when they failed to find a compromise to avoid the shutdown.
Reports from around the country told of angry and befuddled international visitors who had saved their money to come to the United States only to learn that the attractions they wanted to see were closed because of bureaucracy and politics. Las Vegas got egg on its face when organizers of last week’s World Routes conference canceled a tour of Nellis Air Force Base.
Much of the goodwill the Travel Promotion Act generated has been washed away.
There’s little frustrated businesspeople can do about it — except fire those responsible for the shutdown.
Congress members have been quick to blame their opponents for the closures. Most people are fed up with the shortsightedness of their actions. As representatives of the people, it is their responsibility to work around the clock if necessary to find solutions to problems that could damage our already-fragile economy.
Frankly, I don’t care if the blame lies with Republicans or Democrats, liberals or Tea Partyers. They all failed.
I’m just one out of millions of voters, but I plan to vote anti-incumbent in the next federal election. They’ve all contributed to a setback for the tourism industry, and they all deserve the consequences.