The government shutdown closed national parks across the country, which came with a $30 million price tag for the state of Utah, according to the governor’s chief economist.
The state is home to five national parks — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion — and as well as Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and other national monuments and recreation areas. While the state spent $166,700 a day during the shutdown to reopen eight of them, bringing in $3 million a day in economic benefits, the parks and businesses in and around them still took a toll. October visits to the state’s national parks account for 10 percent of all visits during the year, and the parks bring in about $1 billion a year to state and local communities.
One example is Ruby’s Inn, a hotel just outside Bryce Canyon. General Manager Lance Syrett told the Deseret News that it lost $2 million thanks to the shutdown given cancellations through the end of the year and early next year. He said that for every dollar spent on a hotel room, more than a dollar is also spent on meals and activities. The inn did make up about $500,000 over Columbus Day, however.
Across the country, the shutdown, which lasted 16 days, was estimated to cost communities near the parks $76 million a day in lost tourism.
The price tag for the entire shutdown has been estimated to be much higher thanks to the loss of paychecks from furloughed workers, stymied work for federal contractors and those who need services from the government, the loss of business and consumer confidence, and other effects. Standard & Poor’s estimated the cost to come to $24 billion, nearly the same as funding Head Start, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs for a year. Together, the shutdown and debt ceiling fights cost an estimated 120,000 jobs in just two weeks.
Since 2010, Republicans have continually pushed the country to the edge of crisis to make their demands. That strategy has cost us nearly 1 million jobs and reduced GDP growth by 0.3 percent every year.