Int'l tourists feel heat of U.S. gov't shutdown

2018-12-27 13:42:34Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

Rodrigo Korhonen, a tourist from Europe, was caught off guard by the cancellation of night tours to Alcatraz Island, one of San Francisco's most sought-after tourist destinations.

"Alcatraz Day Tours will operate during the government shutdown, but Night Tours will not. The tour operator will automatically refund Night Tour tickets for tour dates cancelled due to the (federal government) shutdown," says a notice on

The U.S. government enacted a partial shutdown which took effect on Saturday as U.S. President Donald Trump and the Congress failed to agree on a border wall funding deal.

"I've long been told about the breathtaking views of San Francisco as night falls," Korhonen told Xinhua Tuesday afternoon.

He originally planned to visit Alcatraz, located in San Francisco Bay and home to the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963, and experience the intensity of a prison breakout recounted by correctional officers who worked on the Island.

"It's frustrating and the closure disrupted my tour plans in San Francisco," Korhonen said.

Korhonen was not the only tourist who felt the heat of the U.S. government shutdown that stretched into its fifth day on Wednesday with no signs showing that President Trump and Congress would find a way soon to reopen it.

Both the Department of the Interior, which runs national parks, and the Department of Agriculture, which runs national forests, are among the parts of federal government affected by the current shutdown.

About 16,000 National Park Service employees - 80 percent of the agency's workforce - are being furloughed. Many national parks are still accessible to visitors, but they will have limited staffing and there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance.

In San Francisco, in addition to Alcatraz, the Fort Point National Historic Site, the 150-year-old military building tucked under San Francisco's landmark Golden Gate Bridge, was completely closed to visitors, along with the San Francisco Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park, Point Bonita Lighthouse and the Nike Missile Site in the Marin Headlands. All park facilities in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area were closed for Christmas on Tuesday.

Like Korhonen, international tourists were vocal in their disappointment and frustration that the U.S. government shutdown has affected their holiday plans.

"I think it's crazy that just one small decision can impact every state in America in this wide range of different activities," Lucas Morondallador, who is visiting Joshua Tree National Park in southern California from Northern Italy, told KESQ News Channel 3, a News-Press-Gazette station.

Yutong Yan, who traveled with her family from Singapore, was worried about finding her way around the Joshua Tree park which was characterized by rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes.

"I can't find any maps of this park, because this is my first time visiting here the only thing I can rely on is the GPS," Yan said.

Those who visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were much luckier. The iconic destination was business as usual thanks to funding provided by the New York State.

"I would be very much dismayed if it was closed. I planned this trip six month ago," Jenny Chang, who flew to New York City for the Christmas Eve from Beijing, told Xinhua.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said During the shutdown the state will fully fund National Park Service personnel and operational costs of 65,000 U.S. dollars a day, as it has during previous shutdowns, to keep the sites open to visitors.

According to an annual report by the National Park Service, 4.5 million people visited Liberty Island in 2016, generating 263.2 million dollars in visitor spending annually and supporting 3,400 jobs, with an economic output of 364 million dollars.

Arizona State Governor Doug Ducey also took a similar measure to keep Grand Canyon National Park open and continue services such as shuttles and public restrooms for visitors. The number of visitors to the major tourist attraction amounted to approximately 6.25 million in 2017.

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