New York City's tourism-based economy will take years to recover

New York City's multi-billion dollar tourism industry took a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic. With full recovery at least four years away, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is outlining plans to bring tourists back slowly and safely.

Pre-pandemic, international visitors accounted for 20% of tourists to New York City but 50% of the revenue. The industry is a huge economic engine, responsible for 403,000 jobs, according to NYC and Company's Christopher Heywood.

"For every dollar that's spent on tourism in direct spending, there's a dollar and a half that's generated," Heywood said. "So overall the economic impact of tourism in a good year is about $72 billion." 

NYC and Company doesn't expect international visitors to come back in significant numbers until 2025. But the Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a multi-tier recovery plan starting with local staycationers.

"Our organization has recently launched an NYC neighborhood getaways program, which includes 250 offers at hotels and attractions," Heywood said.

For the small businesses like the souvenir shops in Times Square, it's been tough just keeping their doors open and making the rent. The crowds in the square are still here, but not like last year at this time.

The NYC and Company recovery plan will build out to focus on regional visitors, then tourists from other parts of the country. they hope that will at least get the economic engine running again, and the recovery moving forward.

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