There is no doubt that New York faced a tough year, struggling through the lasting effects of COVID on both its people and the tourism industry. Overall, the travel industry now faces a set of new and challenging situations.
However, New York is visited by millions of tourists per year; all looking to see the sights and experience the hustle of the city. Due to the impact of coronavirus, sectors and industries dependent on tourists witnessed declines. With the start of 2021, the question is; how will New York bounce back?
Positive attitudes towards international travel
There is light at the end of the tunnel with attitudes towards visiting the Big Apple still being high plus the worldwide rollout of the vaccine. A study executed by NewYork.co.uk showed that almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents to the survey want to travel to New York within a year of the borders being opened again, whereas only 8% reported they would not feel comfortable travelling to New York. This can be interpreted that a majority of British respondents are ready, or at least feel comfortable enough, to start planning their next trip to New York once the borders open again. This is promising for New York and the rebuilding of its tourism industry.
Optimism about US border reopening
There is a strong connection between optimism and the prediction of the borders opening again for New York. The survey found the more optimistic respondents were about when the borders would open, the more likely they will travel to New York sooner. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents believe the borders would open between January – March 2021. Regardless of the exact reopening date, 60% of respondents said they would travel within one year.
Offering financial incentives to visitors
In the survey, it was found the biggest motivation to travel to New York is financially related. Over half (52%) of UK respondents said either ‘getting a good deal on flight and hotel’ or ‘flexible change and cancellation policies’ would motivate them to book a trip. This is understandable as New York is an expensive city. Therefore, several New York hotels are currently offering cheaper accommodation prices (with flexible cancellation policies) to tempt the few current but also future travellers.
Safety measures in place
The survey also shows the enforcement of COVID measurements as a motivation to travel. Survey respondents expect COVID measurements to feel secure when visiting attractions; New York continuously implements these measurements. As stores and tourism sectors reopen, business owners are adopting new measures to help keep customers safe when visiting. Overall, staff and customers are required to wear face masks that fit over the nose and mouth. Hand sanitiser is also freely available.
Attractions and museums are limiting capacity to no more than 33% with social distancing markers ie. signs or tape to help guests maintain distance. Guests are also encouraged to purchase tickets with a time slot in advance. The encouragement of time slot tickets means crowd control can be proactively enforced, ensuring that people feel safe while visiting. The anxiety about attractions or activities being closed can be pacified through these measurements.
When asked ‘What is the first thing you would want to do in New York?’ 17% of the respondents answered that they would enjoy New York’s food. New York’s indoor dining scene remains closed, but restaurants have been allowed in recent months to operate indoors with very little capacity. These careful considerations give an insight into the safety measures NYC restaurants are expected to implement. Measurements such as tables must be at least six feet from each other. It’s understood that sometimes this is not always possible. Whenever tables cannot be separated by at least six feet, a physical barrier (usually plastic) must be placed between them.
Economic recovery support by the city
As indoor dining is now closed, New Yorkers are still continuing to support the culinary scene by eating outdoors (even throughout winter). Numerous streets are now closed to allow more space for outdoor dining. Alongside this, restaurants can add a surcharge of up to 10% to diners’ bills. These measurements are another part of New York’s COVID-19 recovery measures. Both measurements act as an economic recovery support measure during the pandemic thus accommodating and supporting businesses.
Offering convenient testing possibilities
Less than half (41%) of respondents chose one of the multiple options, such as possible quarantining, not enough safety measures or getting sick while in New York as reasons not to travel. Fortunately, New York has brought in several measurements when arriving into the country. Before boarding, you have to possess a negative corona test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) and a New York State Traveler Health Form. You have to show the print screen at JFK and Newark before you can leave the airport.
Upon arrival in New York, you’re required to go into quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, you must be tested again. To make this more convenient, there are dozens of places you can get tested for free in New York. If you test negative again, you can begin your holiday in New York. This ‘testing out’ of the mandatory 14-day quarantine gives out of state travellers an opportunity to exit quarantine early and continue their holiday.
The year 2021 and beyond
Overall, New York is a loved city for millions of tourists. This dip in tourism also provides a more positive note that this situation has presented; local rent for New Yorkers has fallen sharply by up to 50% lower than the beginning of 2020. It also offers a unique opportunity for small business entrepreneurs with big ideas to invest in the economy which was previously oversaturated, resulting in many successful start-ups. Taking this, along with the points outlined above into account, the revival of New York as a popular tourist destination after this crisis looks almost certain. It will continue to repeat its motto ‘New York Strong’ while looking forward to a brighter future.