Tourists baffled and angry as Statue of Liberty shut

Tourists baffled and angry as Statue of Liberty shut

NEW YORK - Where once she welcomed immigrants pursuing the American dream and more recently hordes of tourists, the Statue of Liberty stood alone on Tuesday, victim of the US government shutdown.

Thousands of frustrated tourists had the choice of a one-hour boat trip around New York harbour or their money back, with one of the most iconic monuments in the United States closed.

Dozens of people working on the boats taking people to and from Liberty Island, run by US National Parks, were on hand with infinite patience and multiple languages to help marshall the baffled tourists.

"No statue today, nobody is going on the island," said Brian Fahey, who works for Statue Cruises at the Battery Park pier in southern Manhattan. "But you can join a one-hour harbor cruise that goes by the Statue, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, the Brooklyn bridge," he added. Large notice boards everywhere repeated the same information.

"The government has temporarily shut both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Please join our one hour sightseeing tour and see the magnificent sights of New York harbour." But many visitors were reluctant to be fobbed off with a boat trip.

"I just arrived yesterday from Seattle, I bought my tickets yesterday, they could have suspended the sales, or sent notifications," said Shriram Parameshwaran, a 26-year-old engineer.

He was uninterested in the cause of the shutdown - the latest ideological skirmish between President Barack Obama and House Republicans over the scope of the US government.

"I have no idea what this is about," he told AFP.

He wanted his money back. He wasn't interested in the mini cruise.

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