The tourism industry in the Big Apple probably won’t be back to its normal, robust self for at least four years, the city’s chief tourism agency predicted Monday in a new report.
Even with the release of a coronavirus vaccine likely to come within weeks, revenue generated by tourism in New York City isn’t expected to reach pre-COVID levels until 2024, according to NYC & Company, which put out the report.
“This was built in with the vaccine in mind,” said agency spokesman Chris Heywood. “It’s a preliminary outlook. Our goal is to accelerate it.”
NYC & Company’s report projects that by the end of 2020, tourism will have plummeted 66%, from 66.6 million tourist trips in 2019 to 22.9 million this year.
In 2019, tourism generated $47.4 billion in direct spending in the city, with the indirect impact — based on how that money is then spent by city businesses and workers — hitting $72 billion.
Tourism was one of the first industries to be hit hard by the pandemic. Hotel workers began losing jobs within the first month of its spread throughout the city. Some hotels were re-purposed to house the homeless and essential workers at the height of the pandemic. But others closed for good, and Broadway theaters remain closed for the foreseeable future.
NYC & Company’s forecasts are dependent on a number of factors.
If business travel restrictions that affect large events are lifted, the agency predicted that the industry could be back to its 2019 levels within three years.
Earlier-than-expected foreign travel would also help, though the report notes that “international travel after September 11, 2001 took fully four years to recover.”
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