US shutdown makes tourists jittery

Travel agents start getting calls in the absence of an advisory by the government

Written by Harsha Raj Gatty | Bangalore | Published:October 5, 2013 2:32 am

The government shutdown in the US has made travellers anxious.

Subhash Goyal,president of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO),said: “Tourists scheduled to fly to the US in October-November are consulting agents on the effect of the shutdown. This a common tendency as families make huge investments and big plans for such visits.”

The concerns of the tourists include whether public transport would be affected and whether places of public entertainment,such as national parks and museums managed by the government,would be shut,he said.

However,Goyal said,no tourist had reported inconvenience in the US in the four days since the announcement of the shutdown. He said cancellations,delays and destination changes due to the shutdown were negligible.

“Apart from a few tourist destinations and public transport services managed by the government,everything is running fine in the US. However,we are open to changing plans or cancellations,” Goyal said.

While the US has clarified its embassies will continue issuing all categories of visas,a few tourist operators fear tourist visas may take a hit.

“Unlike student and business visas that are backed by institutional credibility,security agencies consider individual tourist visas a liability. If the shutdown continues,the US government might review issuance of tourist visas,” a leading travel consultant said.

Travellers,meanwhile,are growing increasingly apprehensive since Indian agencies have not issued advisories to citizens travelling abroad during the shutdown.

“There is speculation in the media on visiting the US during the shutdown and there is a need for an official word. Otherwise,people will incur losses,” Manjunath,who is to visit the US in December,said.

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