NYC tourism plummeted in 2020 thanks to COVID, report says

NYC tourism plummeted in 2020 thanks to COVID, report says


New York City tourists dropped by more than 43 million visitors in 2020, costing businesses as much as two-thirds of their total tourism revenue as government restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer travel habits, according to a new report. 

The report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found the city lost as much as $60 billion in economic impact due to tourism in 2020, when it was an estimated $20.2 billion compared to 2019’s $80.3 billion. 

While the overall unemployment rate in the city rose to 20% in May and gradually declined to 12% by December, DiNapoli said the tourism industry lost a third of its jobs, or 89,000 jobs, due to the pandemic, losses in revenue and government-mandated restrictions. 

“The Office of the State Comptroller estimates the drop in spending cost the city $1.2 billion in lost tax revenues,” the report reads.

While Broadway theaters remain shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Times Square, photographed April 12, 2021, has more car and pedestrian traffic than it did when the COVID-19 restrictions went into place in March and April of 2020.

While New York City visitors accounted for a quarter of the total tourists visiting the state in 2019, visitor spending in the city accounted for nearly two thirds (64.4%) of all tourist spending in the state.

DiNapoli’s office estimates tourism spending is unlikely to reach pre-pandemic levels before 2025. And that employment within the industry will not fully recover before visitor spending recovers.


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