By the Associated Press
The US government shutdown had an instant impact on two of the world’s top tourist destinations: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The National Park Service announced that both New York sites would be closed Saturday “due to a lapse in appropriations.” Late Friday, the US Senate failed to approve legislation to keep the government from shutting down after the midnight deadline.
The park service said the closure of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island was effective immediately and until further notice. Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to find the money to reopen the Statue of Liberty as soon as possible, but it remained closed Saturday.
For ticket refunds, visitors were told to contact the private Statue Cruises company that runs ferries from lower Manhattan to the statue and Ellis Island, the historic entry point in New York Harbor for immigrants to the United States that is now a museum.
The ferry company honored ticket holders for a cruise in the bay — to at least see Lady Liberty from afar. Many declined.
Also not earning money was Statue Cruises, which charges $18.50 per ticket to see the statue dedicated in 1886 as a gift from France. On normal days, as many as 3,000 people board the ferries to take a close look, said Rafael Abreu, spokesman for the ferry company whose offices are on Ellis Island. During the shutdown, at least half of the daily $55,000 or so in revenue would be lost.
On Saturday at the Manhattan ferry dock, Abreu said, “there was confusion and surprise — that the government had shut down, especially among the international visitors. They were shocked by this concept.”