Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) says it is paying close attention to the shutdown in the United States (US) because of its likely impact on the country's tourism sector.
The US remains Jamaica's largest source of tourists, providing over 65 per cent of the land-based visitors to the island; however, with more than 800,000 government workers forced to stay home yesterday, this could have a devastating impact.
"A number of our visitors are government workers," said JHTA President Evelyn Smith.
Smith is also concerned about the passport offices that have been closed throughout the US, owing to the fact that passports are required for persons re-entering the States.
Overall, the issue of disruption of the day-to-day life of prospective visitors, if long term, could affect the upcoming winter tourist season; however, Smith said it was too early to predict.
The situation comes as the country's arrival figures have begun to balance out, following weak showings since the start of the year.
Experts in the industry are convinced the shutdown will not last more than a week.
DECISION LIES WITH PUBLIC
"While Obamacare has been a divisive programme, people on both sides of the political aisle realise that a large percentage of their constituents may benefit from it. The public will ultimately decide if this is for the goodwill of the country," says an optimistic André Dixon, an American living here.
Dixon, who is director of marketing at Margaritaville Caribbean, said the impact of the shutdown on the US would be too devastating for it to last long.
Efforts to get a comment from Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill proved futile.