SPRINGDALE -- The government shutdown closed national parks across the country, including Zion National Park in Springdale. Town council members say it’s already affecting local business and tourists are being turned away.
Motorists can still drive through the park on State Route 9 but there’s no hiking or climbing. For many tourists it’s the end of their vacation, some before it even began.
“We’ve waited all these years to retire and come and see these parks,” said Kay Lutz of Missouri. “Now here we are and we can’t see ‘em.”
Many tourists reacted in shocked disbelief, expressing frustration that a congressional stalemate would spoil their plans.
“I don’t understand why they would let people not have their jobs,” said Illinois resident Sandy Moles. “Ruin people’s plans, paychecks, how this impacts the whole country. It’s just completely selfish as far as I’m concerned.”
Tourists aren't the only ones frustrated.
Members of the Springdale Town Council gathered at the gate of Zion National Park Tuesday morning. They say like many gateway communities, having the park closed takes money out of their pocket.
“Our major revenue comes from tourist generated taxes,” said Springdale Community Development Director Tom Dansie. “Sales tax and transient room tax, so the park being a major destination for tourists, has a large impact economically on the town.”
In a news release, park managers estimate they will lose $50,000 in entrance fees each day the park remains closed, while gateway communities across the country will lose out on a combined $76 million.
Springdale and the state of Utah launched a campaign Tuesday to highlight state and local lands unaffected by the shutdown, aiming to keep tourists from simply going home and moving on.
Tourists say they’re committed to making their vacations work, and the town council says they’ll do what they can to make the experience an enjoyable one, despite the park closures.