How to get tourists to come back? On the strength of a vigorous anti-COVID vaccination campaign and a positivity rate now below 5%, New York hopes to become an attractive city again before the others and in June will launch a communication operation of unprecedented scale.
Thirty million dollars to tell Americans and international tourists that “New York is waking up”: it is the unprecedented sum that the first American metropolis will put on the table, announced Wednesday the mayor Bill de Blasio and the president of the city tourist office, Fred Dixon.
Travel is still limited, the message, declined via traditional media, social networks and influencers, will target Americans first, starting with friends or relatives of New Yorkers, called to “come and visit them”. Before expanding, if pandemic control allows, to a national and then global audience, Dixon said.
“There were 400,000 jobs linked to tourism before the pandemic, they will come back”, assured Mr. De Blasio during a press briefing. “New York is waking up, we must tell people that our businesses are open, that they are safe (…) It will not happen overnight, we know it, but it will happen”.
The stakes are high for a city that was, before the pandemic, one of the most visited in the world, with a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019, attendance dropped to 22 million in 2020.
Especially since major investments, made before the pandemic, must be amortized. The expansion of the Javits Center conference center cost $ 1.2 billion, and the renovation of LaGuardia airport $ 8 billion.
The bet has not been won: the business districts have been deserted for 13 months, the majority of employees continuing to work from home, depriving a vast ecosystem of restaurants, shops and hotels of income. And crime is on the rise, reminiscent to some of the dirty and sometimes dangerous city New York was in the 1970s-80s.
Despite a start to the resumption of sports competitions and some entertainment, key attractions are still missing, such as Broadway shows: their return is scheduled for September, although the tourism office did not rule out Wednesday that the date is brought forward.
Under these conditions, New York does not hope to return to mass tourism before 2023: the tourism office predicts that the city will then have almost regained its pre-pandemic level with 64.7 million visitors, and will resume its growth from 2024 with 69 million.