Gov. Hochul Provides $100 Million to Bring Back Tourism Industry, Jobs in New York
By Yehudit Garmaise
On the day when the US welcomes back international travelers from 30 different countries, after nearly two years of American borders that were closed due to the pandemic, Gov. Kathy Hochul has prioritized bringing back the tourism industry businesses that are responsible for one in 10 jobs in the state.
“We used to have 265 million visitors come [a year] statewide and spend more than $73 billion,” Gov. Hochul said today at the Museum of Natural History. “That money is lost.
“New York will not come back until everyone is back at their jobs, and we bring back tourism and the vitality we felt before the pandemic.”
As Gov. Hochul spoke about the significance of the day on which the US once allowed tourism, she said good-naturedly, “So for those of you who have enjoyed going to the airports without a crowd: sorry, those days are over.
“And that is a good thing!”
Under normal circumstances, tourism in New York is a $117 billion industry: the state’s third-largest industry that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, said Gov. Hochul, who explained that the tourism industry could not reopen without the return of the “millions of people from abroad and the many people who had come from other states.”
Before the pandemic, New York City hosted 66.6 million visitors who spent more than $47 million on restaurants, shops, souvenirs, and attractions, Gov. Hochul said, who noted that the city, which today had only a 1% infection rate of COVID-19, is one of the country's safest places to visit.
“But that money dried up,” the governor said. “All of a sudden it was there, and then it wasn’t: in a matter of days or weeks, when the pandemic began.”
Now that travelers are returning, Gov. Hochul worried that the airlines, the hotels, the cultural institutions, and the businesses will be understaffed because they did not have the revenue to pay their workers throughout the pandemic.
“When tourists do come back, we don’t want the reverse crisis: that the hotels are all ready to open, but there are no workers ready to step in,” said Gov. Hochul before announcing the $450 million the state is investing in tourism workers and businesses.
Gov. Hochul has allocated $100 million to provide one-time payments of $2,700.50 to as many as 36,000 workers in the tourism industry, who have not yet been able to return to work and “who are just hanging on by a thread,” said Gov, Hochul, as she promised that their jobs would be coming back very soon.
In addition, Gov. Hochul announced a $100 million return-to-work grant program to incentivize tourism businesses, non-for-profits, and cultural institutions to rehire their workers sooner, by providing them with payments of $5,000 for each full-time worker they re-hire for at least six months.
“I know you can put [your workers] to use, and I know financially it doesn’t make sense, but that is why we are going to help you out,” Gov. Hochul said. “Bring them back now.”
To bring back businesspeople who would otherwise be booking conventions in New York City, Gov. Hochul announced a $25 million grant program called “Let’s Meet in New York,” for convention and event centers.
“We want the tourists from around the world, the people who organize the conventions: the businesses and the industries to know: that this is the place to come.”
In addition to the city’s tourism industry, which should be thriving once again, very soon, promised Gov. Hochul, who remembered helping her mother to start and run a flower show, also said that she will be proposing, for the next legislative session, a $2 million business support program to help small businesses.
“I know the risks small business owners take,” said Gov. Hochul, who has already provided $325 million in assistance to 20,000 small businesses statewide. “I know they put their hearts and souls into their businesses, and they just want to be given the chance to survive.”
(Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)