United States: The land of prisoners

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Oh, say, can you see? Brand USA is the organization appointed by the United States government to handle all marketing affairs for the country’s travel and tourism industry. As such, Brand USA is not the entity to be dealing with in terms of government policies nor is it allowed to comment on them.

This being the case, Brand USA is not allowed to comment on the impact of the ongoing government shutdown on travel and tourism. This is the information I was given by Brand USA staff when I visited their stand at the recently-concluded World Routes Summit, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Why is this relevant? Well, I went to Brand USA to inquire about the number one basic necessity for a US traveler seeking to leave the country – a passport. Without one, a US citizen can neither leave nor enter the country. Because of the fiasco in Washington, DC, passport agencies are basically useless and individuals who do not currently possess a valid US passport may as well call themselves prisoners because their freedom to travel has been stripped from them. The land of the free? Alas! Not anymore. At least, not currently.

Turning to Brand USA for information on how to obtain a US passport proved to be a futile effort because it offered what, at best, can only be described as a guess. “They might begin processing as early as tomorrow.” Might? As of right now, some US citizens are held hostage in their own country. This is not a “might scenario,” it is a concrete fact.