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How the absence of tourism is affecting NYC cultural life in NYC

To be from NYC & to walk in Manhattan & certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn & to hear the wind blow clearly. Let’s me know how impactful the pandemic was on NYC tourism. With NYC being “lights, camera & action” all the time. For everyone to stay home there aren’t many tourists visiting. The NYC hustle and bustle energy is not as profound as it used to be.

Gassed up, with masks on, at Kennedy International Airport. But there’s nowhere to go. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Outside Kennedy International Airports Terminal 4, there was once a long line of NYC cabs that in the past years were in heavy rotation with demand of passenger arrival. Which now has disappeared. The wraparound rows where passengers line up to receive a cab are empty. There is normally a minimum of 12 drivers waiting for passengers. Where now at most there will be two cabs waiting. Sometimes drivers wait for hours before picking up a single passenger. “I have no fares. There’s no flights coming in, no tourists visiting and there’s less people on the streets,” said Jean Metellus, a 71-year-old Queens resident. “So, there’s no business, but we still have to pay the bills.”

The Algonquin Hotel in New York remains closed. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The pandemic & global travel restrictions introduced to us in March 2020 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus has declined the American tourism industry. While impacting the livelihoods of millions of people. The U.S Travel Association an organization that promotes travel to and within the country, predicted that the US will see a decrease of international visitors nearly 80 percent in 2020. With numbers as high as 18.6 million compared to last year’s 79 million arrivals. “If no tourists come, I have no business,” said Prince Mahmud, a business owner who runs a souvenir shop on Canal Street in Chinatown. “Souvenirs are for tourists,”.

A driver of a horse-drawn carriage passes the time waiting for a fare. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

NYC tourism industry has a long way to recovery compared to other cities like London. London has restarted its economy through hyperlocal tourism to help with the coronavirus pandemic recession. There have been many conversations with top tourism officials from major cities such as NYC who are discussing laying the groundwork for tourism recovery.

Socially distanced tables have been set up in Father Duffy Square, at the northern end of Times Square. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

NYC tourism industry thrived in 2019 following its tenth consecutive year with 66.6 million visitor whose spending would generate about 70 billion in economic activity. While supporting 400,000 jobs. The industry expected around 68 million visitors in 2020, Which would be a 2% increase from 2019. In comparison to another tourist spots NYC is behind.

“New York is a little bit further behind some of the other destinations because of the impact of the epicenter and our government leaders have been very slow to respond, I would say to make sure there is public health safety in mind first of all but as things start to reopen I am hopeful we will see more of these pieces,” Dixon said.”

The city’s tour buses still make their rounds. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Hotels, like many in the hospitality industry, are suffering during the pandemic and now hotel owners are asking for help. Normally receiving hotels in New York City's heaviest traveled tourist areas are now in crisis due to the pandemic, business restrictions, and lack of tourism. Room rates have declined without tourists to use them or their restaurants, and thousands of workers have unfortunately lost their jobs.

Restaurants that relied on tourists for steady of business, like Carmine’s Italian Restaurant in Times Square, have shut down. © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Thousands of people count on our industry jobs to take care of their families and the pandemic has devastated livelihoods," said Rebecca Hubbard, GM of Lotte New York Palace. The hotels are asking the city to work with them or else there may not be a place for the 66 million tourists to return to when the pandemic is over.

NYC Tourism culture has definitely been affected but with Summer 2021 many things seem promising & were in a much better predicament then we were in last year during this time. We hope everyone stays safe & remember to wear a mask!


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