Salem, Mass. volunteers help tourists during gov. shutdown

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October 3, 2013, 5:46 am
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(NECN: Justin Michaels) - Of all months for there to be a government shutdown, October is likely the worst for the city of Salem, Mass., as hundreds of thousands of people are set to flock here as Halloween approaches.

Melissa Joyal of Saratoga, N.Y. said, "I noticed it was closed due to the government shutting down."

Joyal came all the way to Salem from New York, and when she walked up to the visitor center front door, she was greeted with a locked door and this sign.

Because of the federal government shutdown, this national park facility is closed.

That's certainly not a welcome sign to the more than 250,000 people who are set to descend on this city for spooks and haunts during the month of October

Joyal said, "I think it's ridiculous, to be honest with you."

To fill the void created by these locked doors, there are volunteers handing out maps and brochures at a makeshift visitor center. It's basically a fold up table with some brochures for anyone who might be walking by. And the city of Salem brought in portable toilets for those visitors too.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said, "We're definitely concerned about the logistics for not having an operating visitor center that is also a host of a lot of public restrooms. For us, October being a busy season, it's very much concerning not to have that location open."

And having this visitor center closed is a bigger problem than just the lack of information for people wanting to learn about Salem's rich history. It's also a place for people to learn about places to go in the city.

Joyal said, "We are from out-of-town and, that's the whole purpose, we were going to go see where we can find food. So it will push people to mosey around and figure it out or they're just going to leave."

And people leaving Salem in October is a scary proposition because this month alone generates 25-percent of the tourist dollars that come into the city all year.

On a typical weekend this visitor center sees about 10,000 people during the month of October. On Halloween night, that number jumps to 75,000 people.

Tags: massachusetts, tourists, volunteer, Salem, tourism, government shutdown, Justin Michaels, visitor center
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