Decline in Independence tourism a cause for concern

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Fewer people are visiting Independence, and that has city leaders concerned. Since the beginning of the month, two of the city's biggest tourist attractions have been closed, thanks to the partial government shutdown.

We're talking about our nation's 33rd president: Harry Truman. He's the biggest reason why tourists travel to Independence. People are still wild about Harry. But both the Truman Library and Truman Home have been closed all month, thanks to the partial government shutdown.

Merchants on the historic Independence Town Square say they've noticed the difference during what typically is the nicest weather month of the year. The city's tourism department says nearly 5,000 people would have visited the Truman Library in October.

More than 1,500 would have visited the Truman Home this month. Each visitor making a day trip to Independence spends about $100 in the city, and at Scandanavia Place, Jeff Lujin said overall numbers of visitors are down, but some of those upset over not being able to go to the museum or Truman Home do what they can to make their visit worthwhile.

"We have a lot of disgruntled people come in," Lujin said. "Some of them might be a little good for business because they come down here and try to compensate I think for not being able to go to the Truman Home. The word is out that it is closed. This is one of our busier months and it's noticeably down."

Lujin also works at the visitors center, which has been closed all month. He said sequestration also is hurting tourism this summer as the Truman Home had to shut down on weekends. The longer the partial government shutdown continues, the more merchants fear visitor numbers and spending will continue to drop.

A special exhibit at the Truman Library called Benton and Truman, examining the connections between the President and painter Thomas Hart Benton was supposed to end this month. We don't know if that exhibit will be revived once the library reopens.



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