New York City tourism, a major economic engine for the city may not recover until 2025. “It’s going to be a very slow build initially,” said Fred Dixon, the chief executive of the agency, NYC & Company. New York drew over 66 million visitors in 2019, a record number and was on pace for even more in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry is critical to the city, providing as many as 400,000 jobs and drawing $46 billion in spending, by NYC & Company’s estimates. The wipeout of tourism has devastated several other sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants, and Broadway theaters.
The return of international visitors, who stay longer and spend significantly more than domestic visitors, will be even slower, NYC & Company predicts. The number of foreign tourists in the city is not likely to return to its 2019 level before 2025. The hope is that domestic tourists begin to return by mid-2021. This of course is reliant on successful vaccine distribution. This is heavily reliant on the return of Broadway, which will be closed until at least May 30th, 2021.
Hospitality in particular has been devastated by the pandemic and the spike in Covid-19 cases, along with new regulations on bars, restaurants, and gyms give many small business owners concern that another shutdown is coming. This would be a death sentence for many that are just barely hanging on. The NYC Hospitality Alliance says that in October, 88 percent of surveyed restaurants could not pay their full rent. 30 percent could not pay any rent at all.
NYC must find a way to plug their budget gaps without being able to rely on tourism for the next four years which will be hard enough to do if no other small businesses go under due to Covid-19.