After two years of sparse crowds at Times Square and other popular attractions, New York City finally wants a strong rebound for visitors this year. However, the city still loses the main driver of the pre-pandemic tourism boom, a large spender from China that the government has not yet allowed to travel abroad.
Before the pandemic, China was the fastest growing foreign tourist, with more than 1.1 million Chinese tourists visiting in 2019. The impact on New York’s economy was huge as it tended to stay longer and spend more than other tourists.
Now, in the first spring since 2019, the US border has been fully reopened to visitors, and city officials have been touring from countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Australia to supplement the absent Chinese, at least temporarily. I rely on customers.
New York City’s tourism promotion agency, NYC & Company, predicts that this year’s number of tourists will increase 70% from last year to 56.4 million, including 8 million from outside the United States, according to a forecast released Wednesday.
That total is well below NYC & Company’s 2019 estimate of 66.6 million visitors. But it will bring the city closer to Mayor Eric Adams’ goal of a full tourism recovery by 2024.
Tourism is an integral part of the city’s economy, supporting more than 300,000 jobs in hotels, restaurants, museums and theaters. And overseas tourists have the greatest influence, as they spend an average of more than three times as much as the average domestic tourist.
NYC & Company estimates that visitors spent about $ 24 billion in the city last year, including those who traveled at least 50 miles but did not stay overnight. This was about half of 2019, but increased by more than 50% from 2020.
Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer said:
Ensuring that the outcome of the revival of tourism spreads not only in Manhattan, but throughout the city, she said, was the central objective of the Adams administration’s blueprint for economic recovery.
Fred Dixon, Chief Executive Officer of NYC & Company, said: “We are working to ensure that these green shoots lead to a full-scale recovery.”
Dixon pointed out that one of the reasons for optimism is that hotel occupancy has recovered in recent weeks due to the decline of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. According to industry research firm STR, three-quarters of the hotel rooms available in the city were filled in the week ending March 19. It was still below the pre-pandemic level of 87%, but much higher than in the first two months of the year when Omicron kept many visitors away.
To stimulate demand, Adams donated an additional $ 10 million to NYC & Company for a promotional campaign launched last year under the theme of “New York City Time.” This is the first time in a few years that city funds have been allocated to government agencies.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio poured $ 30 million in federal pandemic aid to the Tourism Board last summer in hopes of encouraging visitors to return home quickly. The city staged free concerts and movies around five provinces to celebrate the comeback. But new variants of the virus, first Delta and then Omicron, undermined their efforts, ending the year with a dark record.
Overall, the city had only 32.9 million visitors in 2021, less than half of the record total for 2019. Only 8% of these visitors came from other countries due to the closure of the border during the first 10 months of last year. Percentage before the pandemic.
NYC & Company predicts that foreign visitors will triple this year. However, the forecast includes 438,000 visitors from China. This assumes that China will end the blockade of Covid and allow its citizens to travel again.
“We recognize that there is a downside risk in the current forecast and there may be room for downward revision this summer,” said the director of Tourism Economics, the company that created the forecast. Emina Cardamone warned.
Dixon admitted that predicting when Chinese tourists will return involves “a lot of speculation.” However, he added that most foreign tourists will come from Canada and Europe. In Canada and Europe, the demand for travel is considered high and NYC & Company has revived the marketing team.
Before the city was closed in March 2020, the agency had representatives around the world. But as the pandemic progressed, Dixon had to shut down these businesses that he had been building over a decade.
In recent months, NYC & Company has gradually reopened these offices, with the exception of China and Singapore, spreading the word that New York is ready to welcome tourists again. The agency has launched a new partnership with a Japanese promotional company this week.
Adams has relaxed many restrictions to accelerate the city’s rebound.
“We had to rebuild our trust in New York,” Dixon said. “One of the biggest challenges we had to face was to show travelers that New York, which they know and love, is here, and Broadway and restaurants are back. “
The city is still facing a long road to full recovery. Approximately 115 hotels, including the 1,025-room Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown, have not been reopened and approximately a quarter of the union members remain dismissed. Overall employment in the leisure and hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants, museums and theaters, has declined by about 100,000 since before the pandemic.
Vijay Dandapani, Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Hotel Association, said: “The persistent loss over the last two years is a waste of money.”
As part of the campaign, NYC & Company plans to promote each of the five provinces to tourists.
Some attractions outside of Manhattan, such as the Universal Hip-Hop Museum exhibit at the Bronx Terminal Market, are still in recovery mode. The museum, which is scheduled to open in 2024, was closed at the South Bronx Market in December as Omicron was sweeping the city.
We are currently preparing to open a new exhibition focused on the early days of hip hop in the late 1980s. This includes costumes for performers such as LL Cool J and Run-DMC and other souvenirs.
“It’s a shame that some countries still have certain travel restrictions, but we’re attracting people from all over the world,” Bucano said. “We expect a lot of people to come together when we reopen in May.”
Plans to launch an autonomous region campaign in Brooklyn were welcomed by cultural institutions. “This is audible music, as most of the tourism spending has historically been directed to Manhattan,” said Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum.
Pastel Nack said the crowd had gathered at the museum’s recent exhibits, including one that introduced Christian Dior’s fashion. “Brooklyn has always come back because we’ve never left,” she said.