space traveling warriors tier list : Experts Discuss Strategies to Boost New York City’s Tourism Recovery

Mayor Adams celebrates tourism (Photo: Michael Appleton/City Hall)

The COVID-19 pandemic torpedoed what had been New York City’s tourism record, but the past year has seen an escalation back to pre-pandemic numbers. Reports from NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing and tourism partner, project that by the end of 2022, 56.7 million visitors will have arrived in the city, about 85% of the 66.6 million that visited in 2019.

Experts say the goal is to get back to pre-pandemic numbers, and the same New York Travel and Tourism Outlook Report forecast to reach 63.7 million tourists by the end of 2023.

“It’s been a long journey the last couple of years and it’s certainly affected many of us in our industries, but visitors are responding to New York and coming from far and wide,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company, speaking June 29 at “Accelerating NYC’s Tourism Recovery”, an event organized by the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank.

Dixon spoke with Center for an Urban Future CEO Jonathan Bowels in an interview following a panel discussion.

Panelists included Nikoa Evans, executive director of Harlem Park to Park; Peter Madonia, president of the Belmont Business Improvement District; Anthony Ramirez, co-owner of Bronx Beer Hall; Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance; and Tim Tompkins, director of SharedCitySharedSpace and former president of the Times Square Alliance. Eli Dvorkin of the Center for an Urban Future asked the panel’s questions.

Panelists said part of continuing the tourism recovery is “reshaping the city’s narratives” and ensuring the city has cleaner and safer public spaces.

Times Square has often been mentioned as a place in Manhattan that should be invested in by the city government in order to promote its status as a cultural hub and attract tourists, and to ‘reform the narrative’ of the pandemic that has been home to surges. crime and homelessness.

Rigie said he would like to see the city invest in converting empty Times Square offices into social gathering places such as nightclubs and conference centers, which he said could help boost business travel and tourism, as well as turn Midtown into more of a social hub.

Panelists also discussed the city’s hotel industry and the challenges facing hospitality tourism as the city continues to emerge from the pandemic.

NYC & Company’s Tourism Outlook report showed the city added 20,000 rooms to its hotel inventory in 2021 and 5,000 more in 2022, reaching 123,000 rooms so far. These numbers were made up of a mix of reactivated inventory (many after the 2020 pandemic shutdowns) and new properties. There are currently over 7,000 rooms planned to be added by 2024.

COVID-related travel restrictions were lifted in November 2021 and international tourism is picking up in 2022, with a projected 8.3 million such tourists by the end of the year, only to grow further in 2023.

Dixon credited current and projected increases in international tourism to recent federal decision to end covid testing requirements for international travelers.

Panelists mentioned the importance of encouraging local tourism as well, within the boroughs and tri-state area, which send frequent daytime visitors to New York City from suburban areas.

Ramirez suggested implementing incentives to use social media and pay local creators to promote cultural references and local spots in the city as a means of advertising and increasing tourism. But, reference controversy which has surrounded the popularity of “Joker Stairs” in the Bronx, he also said it is important to encourage responsible and respectful tourism, which can become a challenge in the age of social media and some reluctance from residents to turn their neighborhoods into tourist attractions.

Panelists said that when rebuilding the city’s tourism sector, it’s important to create experiences where visitors can essentially travel the world just by coming to New York and experiencing its diverse culture. Some said it might also be valuable to take a closer look at what other cities and countries are doing to attract tourists and implement similar practices in New York City.

Panelists also mentioned encouraging public spaces and restaurants to be places where people spend more time if they want to, abandoning to some extent the typical fast pace of New York in favor of becoming reminiscent of European style. Madonia suggested bringing something grand to the city, looking to the London Eye Ferris wheel as a reference point.

In a broader sense, panelists also said it can be valuable to adopt strategies from other US cities that are making progress in terms of tourism, specifically mentioning Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Tompkins also suggested holding more cultural and musical events inspired by popular jazz festivals in cities such as New Orleans, Newport and Copenhagen.

According to an analysis by the Center for an Urban Future, the pandemic saw a decline of nearly $1 billion in revenue for city-based arts organizations, down 36% from the year before the pandemic.

Other active efforts to increase tourism mentioned at the event included the city’s efforts to bring the 2024 Democratic National Convention to New York.

“New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic and now we are leading the recovery. And the convention will pour hundreds of millions of additional dollars into our economy in a part of the city that has been one of the hardest hit.” Mayor Eric Adams said in a May announcement of the bid, which proposes Madison Square Garden as the main venue for the event, with the Javits Center hosting other components, and the city’s robust attractions, mass transit system and base. diversified Democrat as outlets.

In the audience Q&A portion of the panel discussion, a participant from the Bronx asked what can be done in neighborhoods that currently do not have the same influence as popular tourist destinations to increase visitor flow.

Panelists suggested more collaboration with NYC & Company and emphasized the importance of the city allocating more resources to communities to help local businesses and increase visitor potential.

Madonia, who spoke about the Little Italy of the Bronx on Arthur Avenue, said it can sometimes take years, even decades, for neighborhoods to have the same level of recognition that will attract more tourists and visitors.

For tourism to increase in underrepresented neighborhoods and boroughs like the Bronx, panelists said there needs to be more coordination between community councils, local community leaders and other city resources to increase bandwidth for smaller organizations that need support, and make navigating city bureaucracy more accessible.

Evans noted that he partnered with Captivate Marketing Group President Yvonne McNair to co-found the Harlem Festival of Culture, inspired by the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, and is expected to take place in the summer of 2023.

The event is expected to bring a substantial number of visitors from around the world, especially after the increased interest in the 1969 festival that was featured in the 2021 Oscar-winning documentary “Summer of Soul”. Evans said the event could be a beacon of hope for neighborhoods that are often left out of the conversation when it comes to city tourism.

“I would like to ask us to redefine what cultural goods mean. Yes, there’s money that goes to culture, but usually you think about it, it’s museums, it’s public art, etc. Culture to me is people,” Evans said, echoing the shared idea among speakers that prioritizing and investing in the people of New York City can be a valuable asset to the city’s tourism recovery. “A lot of attention when you say ‘cultural funding’ is the institutions and actually it’s the community where I’m saying resources need to be leveraged.”

During his appearance after the panel, Dixon of NYC & Company also said it is important for the city to prioritize funding New Yorkers to enable their involvement in the city’s tourism renaissance, referencing a partnership 2020 with the Public Art Fund that hired 50 emerging New York-based artists to create art in every borough. This effort was made to help these artists survive the pandemic and engage New Yorkers at a time when few were leaving their neighborhoods or the city.

Dixon also spoke more about statistics from the NYC & Company report, expressing positivity about the progress seen in the tourism industry since the first challenges of the pandemic. He said he also expects to see more economic support from city and state governments, including increased funding for paid media in the recently approved municipal fiscal year 2023 budget.

When asked about things that might worry him in terms of challenges for the tourism industry in the future, Dixon mentioned inflationary pressures, climate change, and also returned to the narrative around the city when it comes to security. However, in conversation with tourism experts in other cities, he said he has not seen concerns about New York’s perceived crime problem extend far beyond the tri-state area, saying the city is often its worst critic.

“New York has the experience that people want right now, and we’re delivering that,” he said of efforts made by NYC & Company to increase the inclusion of diverse groups, local creators and small businesses on the path to tourism recovery for the city. “Our local effort is encouraging people to come to New York for the icons you know and love, but also to step into the community and support small businesses.”

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