No Panic Yet, But Local Businesses Fear Impact Of Prolonged Shutdown

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At Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington and Concord, orange cones and chains block the entrances. Signs read: “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is closed.”

There are similar signs up around the state, especially in the Boston area. The USS Constitution. The Bunker Hill Monument. Even the visitors center at Faneuil Hall. All closed.

A sign blocks the entrance to Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington on Wednesday. (Jack Lepiarz/WBUR)
A sign blocks the entrance to Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington. (Jack Lepiarz/WBUR)

But businesses aren’t panicking.

“So far for us, no discernible effects on business, as yet,” said Matthew Murphy, general manager of Old Town Trolley Tours of Boston.

They visit stops on the Freedom Trail and other historic sites. Fourteen of the 16 stops on the trail are open. But Murphy says he’s still taking dozens of calls from concerned tourists.

“We all pick up the phones, so I’ve had plenty of conversations with tourists myself and I don’t have a sense from those conversations that people aren’t coming to Boston,” he said.

Tourism officials agree. They say right now people who’ve made plans to come to the city are still visiting.

But Pat Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects that after about 10 days, the city will see people canceling plans to come to the region.

“Right now, people who have booked their tours to Boston are coming. They’re not canceling, they’re not rescheduling," he said. "But if this drags on and there doesn’t seem to be any solution, that’s going to end up having people probably change their plans, and then that will ripple out.”

That has implications for a city where more than a third of the visitors are tourists.

One positive thing for Boston is that there are other attractions not affected by the shutdown, such as the Old State House and the African Meeting House, because they get private funding.

That’s less the case in Lexington and Concord, which depend on visitors to Minute Man Park to support local businesses.

“It’s very significant," said Mary Jo Bohart, executive Director of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce.

She says the shutdown has come at the worst possible time. October, she says, is the area’s busiest tourism season.

“Our shopkeepers, our merchants, our restaurants in our downtown, being so close geographically to our tourism sites, I shudder to think of if this is a prolonged shutdown how it will ripple through," Bohart said.

Bohart says she too has not seen an immediate dip in visitors, and she’s directing tourists to sites that are open.

In the meantime, Bohart and her counterparts in Boston say they’re hoping for a quick resolution in Congress.

This program aired on October 3, 2013.

Jack Lepiarz Reporter and Anchor
Jack Lepiarz was a reporter and anchor at WBUR.



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