Coping with the government shutdown in a town dependent on tourism
"How do you come up for a contingency plan for something like this? But it's OK, we're working with guests to try to mitigate the damage this is doing to their vacations," Schear said. "We would just inundate them with (suggestions), so most of them would come back and just be as happy as can be. We've had some of the most pleasant people this week."
The hotel undergoes a rigorous deep cleaning and maintenance regimen each winter, which means most employees are able to stay on year-round rather than working seasonally. As the guest list thins, Schear said the staff will begin several of those projects early to keep them busy.
Business cut in half
At the Zion Canyon Market, a grocery store a stone's throw from the park gate, manager Lamar Gubler has spent the week sympathizing with tourists from all over the world who had come to make the "grand circle" through Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Grand Canyon National Parks.
As the tour groups have turned back or cancelled, business has suffered.
"We rely on it here probably more than most," Gubler said. "Some of the businesses downtown, they do have some local customers, but we're almost strictly campers or tourists here. Our business is less than half what it was five days ago."
Zion Canyon Market had been counting on at least another month of busy travellers before business began to decline for the winter, but even if the shutdown is resolved in the next few days, Gubler worries the damage has already been done.
"So many people have changed their plans, they're not coming up," Gubler said. "If they open the park back up in the middle of next week, which is about the soonest they could do it, it will take at least a week before we see any improvement. Where we only have so much time left in the season, it's kind of ruined the rest of this season."
Like many businesses in town, the grocery store cuts employee hours each winter as traffic dwindles. Those cuts will likely happen early this year, and the store's 10 employees saw the first reductions to their schedules on Sunday, Gubler said.
"I kept them in (this week) not really knowing what kind of effect it would have," Gubler said. "We'll move to our winter mode quicker."
Despite the lost month of business, Gubler hopes the store will rebound in the spring. In the meantime, he hopes the "political games" being waged by both parties will cease before more damage is done to American workers like the Zion Canyon Market employees.
"Congress is driven so much by ego and power, and lack of concern for ordinary people, and that goes for both parties," Gubler said. "That's just my opinion, but I think I'm right."
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