Predictions about the future of Manhattan when the pandemic first struck were bleak. The New York we knew was gone, many said. It will never return to its original pre-pandemic state.
I recently visited Manhattan after some time. And I was glad that what I found there has nothing to do with Manhattan as it was a few months ago. The traffic was about the same – or even worse – as before the coronavirus hit. But the stores clearly had fewer customers. Many restaurants are still closed, and museum visitors are at lower levels than before.
It was not long before I realized why.
The tourists are still missing.
As is well known, the U.S. government had closed its borders to visitors from abroad, including the European Union. This despite the fact that the EU accepted American tourists, conditionally. That is, if they met the requirements for protection against the coronavirus.
But now the federal government has decided to open its borders to vaccinated visitors starting November 8.
Almost immediately, New York has rushed to launch an aggressive advertising campaign so as not to miss out on this year’s holiday season.
Of course, the tourists who are absent from New York are mainly the foreigners, and they are the ones who spend the most money because they stay longer in the city.
Before the pandemic, tourists spent $47 billion a year and supported more than 380,000 jobs. About half of that came from foreign tourists – despite the fact that they make up only 20% of visitors.
Now New York has decided to spend six million dollars on advertising in eight countries with the slogan ‘New York City Is Ready for You.’ A simple, yet dynamic, slogan.
This case is reminiscent of the period after 9/11, when no foreigner dared to visit the city. At that time, the authorities immediately launched an advertising campaign that helped the city return to normalcy.
Indeed, New York cannot miss this holiday season. Businesses will not be able to withstand it.
But in addition to advertising, it is necessary to convince tourists that they are not in danger. That is, that the number of cases of coronavirus is very low.
So, the city decided to force all its employees to be vaccinated. That was the right decision. It was a difficult but necessary measure.
A measure that other countries will soon adopt.