Tourism – a vital part of New York City’s economy and a lifeblood for industries like the Broadway theater – may not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2025, according to a new forecast from NYC & Co.
The city’s tourism, convention and visitor sector predicted in a report Monday that the total number of visits to the city would plunge 66% in 2020. Punctuating the pandemic’s toll on the local economy, three events in the holiday season known to draw crowds of spectators: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting and New Year’s Eve bauble drop. All will take place and be televised this year, but without the usual spectacle of crowds taking to the streets (and spending money on hotels, meals, and merchandise).
In 2019, tourism set a record in New York City, with 66.6 million individual trips, generating an estimated $ 47.4 billion in direct spending in the city. About a fifth of these visitors came from abroad. This year’s total is expected to be 22.9 million due to lockdowns and travel restrictions that began in March, with visits outside the United States accounting for less than 10% of the total. The inclination towards visits to the United States is also likely to hurt overall income, as foreign tourists typically spend four times what domestic travelers do.
The report came on the heels of optimistic results from Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine trials and renewed optimism for at least the start of a recovery. “With a generalized vaccination plan taking shape for the first quarter of 2021, the prospects for a resumption of regional and short-haul domestic travel will start to increase visit levels in late spring / early summer,” he said. declared NYC & Co.. “If health gains align with lifting restrictions on activities and gatherings, the pace could pick up. The international market will take longer to catch up.
A return to 2019 levels is possible by 2023, “especially if business travel restrictions affecting major events and meetings are relaxed in 2022,” the report said. “At the same time, New York’s strong position with international travelers could help revive the cautious global travel market sooner. It took four years for international visits to New York to recover from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, officials noted.
In entertainment and the arts, theater, opera, live music and comedy have been particularly affected by the pandemic, as have sporting events. Theaters in the city remained closed, prompting organizers of the New York and Tribeca film festivals to switch to virtual screenings and drive-ins.
Broadway is the city’s most touristic recreation area. As the pandemic has continued, the Broadway League has always maintained that reopening theaters at below full capacity would not be feasible. The producers have rather largely chosen to postpone the productions in the future. News surfaced earlier Monday that Tracy Letts premiered on Broadway Minutes and Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Blues Lackawanna are now aiming for openings in 2022. Paula Vogel’s How i learned to drive is now targeting 2021.
In early 2020, the Broadway League released findings that underscored the importance of tourism. Some 2.8 million international visitors attended a show in 2019, a historic record, the organization said. Ticket buyers from other countries accounted for 19% of the total audience, a jump from the 15% recorded in 2018. US viewers outside of New York City accounted for 46% of the Broadway audience, compared with 35% of New York City. Metropolitan area.
Greg Evans contributed to this report.