(Updates with inn closing)
By Colleen Jenkins
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Oct 3 The operator of a
51-room inn located on U.S. government-owned land in North
Carolina abandoned his defiant stance on Thursday to keep the
property open despite being ordered to close as part of the
federal government shutdown.
Bruce O'Connell, whose family has run the Pisgah Inn on a
concession contract along the Blue Ridge Parkway since the late
1970s, had initially refused to send guests home by the 6 p.m.
deadline imposed by the National Park Service.
But just hours ahead of the deadline, the inn's general
manager said the hotel and its restaurant, gift shop and country
store, located in buildings and on land owned by the U.S.
government, would close "due to the fact that a resolution of
the shutdown becomes more of a distant promise every day."
"We regret the inconvenience and disappointment of our
visitors, but we hope for their understanding," manager Rob
O'Connell's earlier pledge to defy the government shutdown
drew more than 1,000 "likes" on the inn's Facebook page.
National parks across the United States have been closed to
visitors since a partial federal government shutdown began on
Tuesday due to a standoff in Congress over the budget.
Tourists can still drive along the scenic, 469-mile (755 km)
Blue Ridge Parkway, but visitor centers, campgrounds and
restrooms are off-limits.
October is the peak season for the area's vibrant fall
foliage, and travelers such as Julie Andreacola of Indian Trail,
North Carolina, book hotel rooms months in advance.
"The government is taking punitive action on a private
business at the peak of their season," said Andreacola, who had
weekend reservations at the inn. "It should not be permitted."
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie
Adler and Ken Wills)