Plunge In Tourism Dollars Spells Big Trouble For NYC And New York State

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New statistics from the New York State Comptroller’s office shows New York City sales tax makes up for nearly half of the statewide revenue.

Without strong numbers, the state comptroller says the fiscal health of local governments is at risk.

New York City tourism is taking a hit and now, with the cancelation of some major holiday attractions, some say this could have wider reaching impacts.

The iconic Central Park Boathouse is permanently closing, days after horse carriage rides restarted with COVID restrictions. Broadway remains closed, and the Times Square Alliance says pedestrian traffic is down around 70% compared to this time last year.

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“Does it feel like you have the city all to yourself?” Rozner asked.

“Yes,” said Astoria resident Fanny Massa.

“It is more relaxed to take a walk,” said George Bentancourt, who is visiting from Massachusetts.

Holiday season last year had the city bustling. But with no Rockettes, one Midtown retail worker can feel 2020 will be different.

“I don’t see anyone coming out,” said Shelly Bruce, who works in Midtown.

The tree will return, and Saks Fifth Avenue is setting up exterior lights that’ll turn on in November, but the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is canceled. For hotels, that’s the start of bookings.

This December the Fitzpatrick Grand Central has 15% of rooms reserved. Last year, it was filled 97%.

Austin Rising and his sister traveled eight hours from Ohio to spend the day in New York City, avoiding a hotel stay.

“We’re going to head back 7 p.m. tonight we’ll be home by 3 a.m. or so,” Rising said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, so I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Hotel expert and consultant Anthony Melchiorri says the required 14 day quarantine is a factor, and hotels are targeting closer visitors.

“There are plenty of states within 7-8 hours to come to New York,” Melchiorri said. “The greatest thing in the world is walking down Fifth Avenue in the winter and shop. That’s still going to be open.”

Last year, over 66 million tourists came to New York City, supporting 403,000 jobs, generating close to $72 billion.

Rozner asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s office if it will help fill in the financial gaps with state aid, or consider shortening the quarantine restriction. So far, we’ve received no response.

The city’s tourism agency NYC and Company started a hashtag – #AllIn – and says the city will still be the best place for winter traditions, even if it means some of that’s virtual.

A shirt in a souvenir shop pokes fun, saying “The city that never sleeps was forced to take a nap.”

The hospitality industry is still waiting for a wake up call.

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