Time : 13:55: Nov-26, 20

COVID-19 triggers free-fall in NYC tourism, makes recovery h

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The almost 9-month-long COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the tourism industry of New York City, one of the world's most popular destinations, and the influx of tourists will not fully rebound for at least four years, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

New York drew a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and was on pace for even more this year, but now the city is likely to reach just one-third of last year's total, the paper quoted the forecast released on Monday by the city's tourism promotion agency, NYC &Company, as saying.

The surge in tourism in recent years has been a vital pillar of the city's economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of workers across a range of industries, from hotels to restaurants to Broadway, but the current situation reflects one of the biggest challenges to the city's recovery, it said.

The collapse of tourism has been a key reason that New York's economy has been hit harder than most other major American cities. Hundreds of restaurants, many of which rely on out-of-town visitors, and several large hotels have closed for good, according to the report.

Before the shutdown in March, the hospitality industry provided as many as 400,000 jobs and drew 46 billion U.S. dollars in annual spending.

Seven months later, at the end of October, more than 1.3 million residents were collecting unemployment benefits: the city's unemployment rate is 14.1 percent, more than double the national rate, said the paper.

The challenge of luring visitors back to New York in significant numbers could become even greater with the virus surging again. The number of daily cases in the city has surpassed 1,000 for the first time since the spring.

"Even when the pandemic ends, the return of international visitors, who stay longer and spend much more than domestic visitors, is likely to be sluggish," said the paper.

The number of foreign tourists in the city is not likely to return to its 2019 level before 2025, it added.