Tourists left high and dry after US shutdown closes Statue of Liberty


New York (Reuters): Tourists hoping to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour got an unpleasant surprise yesterday when they learnt the must-see destination was closed due to a US government shutdown.

The National Park Service announced on Friday that it would close the historic statue and nearby Ellis Island to visitors if Congress failed to reach a funding deal by midnight.

“If they knew it was being shut down, they should have told us,” Amparo Mendez, 17, an Argentine exchange student who went to Battery Park with a friend after purchasing tickets online last week to visit the statue and Ellis Island, said.

Her friend Brunella Pettoroso, 16, said: “We came with the notion to see the Statue of Liberty, and it’s not the same to see it from here. We’re not coming back.”

In Washington, open-air parks and monuments remained open despite the shutdown, including the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall, where thousands of protesters gathered for the second annual Women’s March, staged on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

However, Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, where large groups of visitors often gather for ferry rides to the Statue of Liberty, was unusually quiet for a Saturday.

“People have been a little bummed out, but they’re not mad at us,” Matthew Rutter, an employee of Statue Cruises, which operates ferries to the islands, among New York’s most popular tourist destinations, said.

Stephen O’Malley, a retired medical professional from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bought tickets months ago, when he and his wife, accountant Mary Hawks, began planning a trip to the statue and Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of US immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

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