Ramble On

Monday, October 14, 2013

Federal Government Shutdown - Impacts to Luray-Page County

For this post, I'm quoting directly out of the Luray-Page County Chamber's weekly "In The Loop" email. As the government shut down wears on, many national news outlets are beginning to highlight the impacts at the local level - and this area is one of those experiencing a significant hit to our economy based on the closure of Shenandoah National Park.


Several people have asked me how the shutdown is impacting tourism. Here are few observations:
  • On the first day of the shutdown, when Shenandoah National Park was closed, about 90 frustrated people came into the Visitors Center seeking help in making alternative, last-minute plans. They needed to find cabins, campgrounds, scenic drives, hiking routes, etc. We scrambled the jets and kept most of them in Page County.
  • Delaware North had to lay off 267 employees in Shenandoah National Park.
  • Appalachian Outdoors Adventures told WHSV that they've had about a 25 percent loss of business.
  • Raven's Roost lost a two-week booking made by group of hikers.
  • Luray Copy Service reports, "Delaware North is our largest customer and normally this time of year we would be printing menus, rate sheets, maps and other various jobs, amounting to significant sales.  This is a loss that we will not recover because the fall season is so short.   On Saturday there was hardly any foot traffic downtown; it was the worst day of sales that I can remember."
The short-term news is not all bad. We are still getting sustained interest in cabin rentals, and one local restaurant-Gathering Grounds-says business is actually up 15 percent.
But the really ominous fact is that each October, tourists to Shenandoah National Park bring $10 million in revenue to the surrounding counties. With the park closed and legions of government workers on furlough, who knows how many of those people will just stay home?
So, I've also been asked, "What's the Chamber doing to fix this?" (No pressure, there, huh?)
We've done a number of media interviews calling on Congress to do its job, spelling out impacts of the shutdown, and pointing out that there are many opportunities to see the leaves and enjoy fall in Page County. We've written a press release to that effect and sent it to dozens of media outlets. I've sent letters to Goodlatte, Boehner and the Washington Post, and we co- signed a letter with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce that will go to all members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation. It's simply not enough for us all to complain to each other. Elected officials (and the media) need to hear from us with hard facts about how their policies are affecting our lives.
And we continue to ask all local businesses to let us know any facts or figures you have about drops in business due to the shutdown. If you can compare lower sales or reduced tourist traffic to this time last year that will especially useful. We will compile all this information and make sure that Congress and the media get to see it.
In closing, the shutdown reminds me of something Ronald Reagan once said: "The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them right away."  --John Robbins, president


Ironically, the area used to be in Eric Cantor's district, Virginia 7 - and due to a rule change the House GOP passed on September 30, he is the only member of Congress that can bring forward the bill to stop this crazy thing.  Complaining about the President's role, or any other politician's lack of action, won't do a thing.  Only Cantor - the representative designated as majority leader - can do something about this.  You can contact him via this web page:  http://cantor.house.gov/

The area is currently in Virginia 6 - Goodlatte's district.  Contact him via this web page:  http://goodlatte.house.gov/

The Luray-Page County Chamber also wants to hear from local businesses about the impacts via http://luraypage.com/

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