Hochul’s $450M Plan to Boost NYC Tourism Includes Hiring Incentives

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Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $450 million plan to boost New York’s pandemic-battered tourism industry as the state gears up to welcome back international travelers.

The proposal calls for one-time payments of $2,750 to laid-off hospitality workers, grants for companies to help offset the cost of hiring new employees and a $25 million tourism marketing campaign, Hochul announced Monday.

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It will also create a $25 million grant program to help convention centers and conference spaces and a $200 million program to help small businesses that started just before or during the pandemic that were ineligible for other state and federal programs.

“Our tourism industry represents the essence of what sets New York apart from the rest. New York can’t come back from this pandemic unless our tourism industry and its workers come back,” Hochul said in a statement. “Our nation-leading $450 million recovery package not only helps tourism industry workers get back on their feet but will also help small businesses and venues reopen their doors.”

Hochul’s announcement came the same day travel to the U.S. resumed for fully vaccinated foreign tourists, with destinations such as the Empire State Building and Times Square vying to attract them.

Tourists had already started to trickle back to the Big Apple, with daily foot traffic at Times Square hitting more than 250,000 this month, a huge improvement from the 30,000 peaks in 2020 but still far below the 365,000 daily average pre-pandemic, according to the Times Square Alliance.

But the return of international visitors could have a far greater impact on the city’s economy as they tend to spend more than domestic tourists, according to the state comptroller’s office.

International tourists spent an average of $1,709 in New York City in 2019, compared to the $458 domestic travelers spent, with most tourists coming from the United Kingdom, according to the comptroller. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio previously launched a $30 million ad campaign to entice mainly domestic tourists — who make up the bulk majority of the city’s visitors — to return and Hochul’s plan calls for an additional $25 million marketing campaign aimed at domestic and international markets.

Hochul’s proposal also will create a $100 million fund to make payments to up to 36,000 laid-off workers in the tourism sector along with another $100 million pool to provide tourist businesses grants of up to $5,000 per new full-time employee they hire or $2,500 for part-time help, Hochul said. Of the proposed $450 million in spending, $200 million would require legislative approval

Nicholas Rizzi can be reached at nrizzi@commercialobserver.com.