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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 21, 2002

NYC tourism slump to cost $2.23 billion

By Henry Goldman
Bloomberg News Service

NEW YORK — Travel to New York this year is expected to decline 14 percent from its peak in 2000, costing the city's economy $2.23 billion in direct spending by visitors, tourism officials said.

Cristyne L. Nicholas, president of NYC & Co., the convention and visitors' bureau, said 32.3 million visitors are expected in 2002, compared with 37.4 million in 2000. There were 32 million visitors in 2001, when transportation was disrupted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A continued decline in travel would reduce the city's tax revenue at a time when officials predict budget gaps of about $4 billion or more in the next three years, Nicholas said during a tourism promotion event at City Hall. Tourism will provide about $410 million less tax revenue this year than it did in 2000, when the industry produced $3.16 billion in taxes.

"It all has an impact on how the city can recover from the recession and the events of Sept. 11," Nicholas said.

Travelers' spending, which reached a record $17 billion in 2000, is projected to total $14.8 billion this year, she said.

The number of foreign visitors has declined, to 5.76 million expected in 2002, or 17.8 percent of the total, from 6.78 million in 2000, or 18.1 percent of all visitors.

Foreigners tend to stay longer and spend more on a New York City visit — an average of $1,075 a day — than Americans, whose average spending is $330, according to NYC & Co. figures.

Some businesses that depend on tourists reported they are still hurting 10 months after the attacks.

"People used to come into New York for a big night on the town," said Spiro Baltas, the manager of Medi, a Mediterranean restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza. "They're not coming anymore."

He said he sees 25 percent fewer tourists, particularly foreigners, compared with two years ago, and the busloads of Japanese tourists that used to come to the restaurant have almost disappeared.

"People are really afraid, from out of the country especially," he said. "Who's going to come to the city when all the talk is of terrorist threats?"