New York is gearing up for the return of tourists

Lifting of the entry ban
New York is gearing up for the return of tourists

For over a year and a half, New York was at a standstill. On November 8th, the USA lifted the general entry ban. Culture and commerce can hardly wait.

Because of the city that never sleeps. The New Yorkers were mostly among themselves for 19 months. Times Square – even today hardly recognizable on some days. Hardly a tourist far and wide. The vendors in the souvenir shops are bored of playing with their smartphones. Anyone walking through Manhattan these days can feel that it has become quieter in America’s metropolis. One would almost like to say: more contemplative.

A New York that even die-hard New Yorkers have seldom experienced. Many enjoy the new intimate flair. For others, the silence is pure horror. When it comes to the New York Chamber of Commerce, the tourism association and countless cultural institutions, the tourists and international conference attendees might not be coming back quickly enough. The influx of visitors since March 2020 has torn a deep hole in the coffers of hotels, restaurants and shops.

In 2019, visitors had left $ 47 billion in the city – a new record, for the tenth time in a row. Then Corona came and plunged New York into a serious crisis. By the end of the year, NYC & Company, a marketing agency for the city, expects $ 24 billion, halving annual revenues. Instead of 67 million visitors, as in 2019, only 35 million visitors are expected this year. A decrease of almost 50 percent. The tourists from overseas are particularly missed. They stay longer and spend the most money.

With the lifting of the general entry ban into the USA on November 8th, New York is now hoping for a comeback. In addition, NYC & Company is planning the most aggressive advertising campaign that has ever been run. After a first wave of posters and commercials with the slogan “New York City Misses You Too”, the new title is now “New York City Is Ready For You” you ready ”). The agency is spending six million dollars on advertising, which is placed in Germany as well as other countries. After the British and the French, the Germans are among the most important guests from Europe for New York.

“This is now a critical moment for the city’s economic recovery,” said Chris Heywood of NYC & Company. “New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the US,” said the PR manager. “Some had written us off, claiming that New York was dead.” In fact, many hotels and shops had to close, many people lost their jobs. “We have suffered painful losses,” admits Heywood. “But we are optimistic about the future.”

In order to bridge the 19 months without the money from Europe and, more recently, from China, the city shifted its focus twice. In a first stage, when even air travel within the USA was only possible to a limited extent, a short break in the city was advertised in the New York area. When the requirements were relaxed further and the Broadway shows played again, tourism concentrated on business travelers and promoted New York as an attractive location for trade fairs and conferences.

In order to boost international business, the city is also relying on Hollywood and social media in addition to its poster campaign and cooperation with tour operators. “New York has one hundred percent brand awareness,” says Chris Heywood. That will continue to be used and expanded. Whether Netflix series or movies, New York has always served as a backdrop for pop culture. The marketing professional says he lives in the West Village. People were still flocking to him in the neighborhood and taking selfies because the apartment building from the cult sitcom “Friends” is half a block from him.

“We hope to have around 3 million international guests by the end of this year,” said Heywood. By comparison, New York is usually home to over 13 million non-Americans each year. The hope is for 8 million international visitors in 2022, including around 350,000 visitors from Germany. “But it won’t be until the end of 2024, maybe the end of 2025, until we have fully recovered,” estimates Heywood. It is hoped that the advertising campaign will contribute to the recovery. It will be some time before the city has left the pandemic completely behind.


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