Monday, September 30, 2013

Keep the government open and the visitors coming

The Arizona Chamber has signed onto a letter spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calling on Congress and the president to come to a deal on the federal budget.

If the government shuts down, so called non-essential services will be unavailable. In Arizona, that means a closure of our national parks, including the Grand Canyon.

I did a segment on TV last week where I talked about the negative effects a government shutdown could have on Arizona’s tourism industry, a major contributor to our economy. In 2012, total direct travel spending was $19.3 billion. Tourism is one of Arizona’s leading export-oriented industries and it’s responsible for over 161,000 jobs in Arizona.

The national parks are responsible for over $13 billion in direct spending nationwide. The Grand Canyon alone supports over 7,300 jobs, had 4.3 visitors in 2011 who spent over $467 million. Back in April 2011 when the last shutdown was threatened, it was estimated that over $485,000 in park entrance fees alone were at risk.

Uncertainty over park openings leads to canceled flights, canceled hotel rooms and canceled reservations with tour operators. This political gamesmanship is doing nothing to grow our economy or create jobs.  It’s important for Congress and the president to negotiate a resolution to this impasse. 

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