The looming partial U.S. government shutdown could have major implications for the travel industry if Congress doesn’t agree to a deal by Saturday.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, a shutdown would cost the travel economy as much as $140 million per day, an “unacceptable prospect” for the industry,” CEO and President Geoff Freeman said.
“The federal government is already failing the traveler—a shutdown would be further proof of Washington’s inability to find reasonable solutions to problems that affect Americans nationwide,” he added.
While TSA workers and air traffic controllers are required to keep working during a shutdown, though they don’t get paid, there’s still a lot more than just the cost that will impact the industry.
Other services that travelers rely on, most notably visa interviews, passport renewals, and Global Entry processing, would be impacted. Then there are flight delays, longer screening lines, and setbacks in air travel modernization, which U.S. Travel says always comes with a government shutdown.
That would make travelers even more likely to cancel trips, and less likely to book—a survey from Ipsos and U.S. Travel found that 6 in 10 Americans would cancel or avoid trips by air in the event of a shutdown.
The staffing progress that the travel industry has made in the past year, most notably hiring air traffic controllers, would also be halted, Secretary of Transpiration Pete Buttigieg said this week.
“If we went through a shutdown, a lot of the progress that we have been making on building up air traffic control, staffing, and readiness in training would be stopped in its tracks. We'd lose the momentum that we've gained over recent weeks and months, and it would send us in the wrong direction,” he said.