TOURISTS and business travellers were hit last night by the budget row in the United States when Hong Kong's US Consulate closed its doors, halting virtually all visa services. As President Bill Clinton and Congress continued their battle over federal debt, the consulate said its services would be suspended until the row was resolved. A consulate spokesman said all but emergency consular services would be stopped, almost certainly causing chaos for hundreds of travellers. The move coincided with up to 800,000 government workers in the United States - about 40 per cent of the federal workforce - being sent home as the Government's spending authority ran out. Air traffic controllers, prison guards and others with crucial jobs will keep working, as will military personnel and the Postal Service. Legislative Councillor Howard Young said the move would seriously affect the travel industry. 'I don't think it will have too much impact on immigrant visas but it will on tourist travel,' he said. 'Luckily it is not the high-peak season for travel to the US but if this situation drags on for one or two weeks it will have an adverse impact on one-off travellers.' The consulate will remain open to American citizens applying for passports and emergency services. The spokesman said only emergency visitor visas would be issued and warned applicants not to come to the consulate until told. Emergencies only involved threats to the life or health of applicants or their immediate family. All immigrant visa appointments for the rest of the month are also cancelled. The crisis in Washington deepened as last-minute talks at the White House produced no agreement, except to keep talking. Both the Clinton administration and the Republican-led Congress insist the other should compromise.