Tourists Dribble in Again

It’s Tuesday. We’ll look at tourism in New York, an essential segment of the city’s economy that is picking up after a dispiriting year and a half. We’ll also look at a State Assembly report that reinforced findings that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women.

The advice was for New Yorkers. It was: “Be nice to tourists.”

It came from Chris Heywood, a vice president of New York City’s tourism agency, NYC & Company. It was almost enough to make a New Yorker say, as politely as possible: Oh, please. And what’s next, etiquette tips?

But Heywood was serious. Now that the United States is allowing vaccinated international travelers into the country, Heywood was explaining to my colleague Matt Stevens how important they are to arts institutions that had lost revenue and cut jobs during the pandemic. “It’s crucial that we recover this segment,” Heywood said. “Arts and culture are going to lead our recovery. That is the backbone.”

International visitors typically make up about a fifth of the city’s visitors, but they tend to stay longer and spend more than domestic travelers. And three of my colleagues — Nicole Hong, Patrick McGeehan and Chelsia Rose Marcius — write that the early indications are that they are trickling back.

The lines are longer at the Halal Guys food cart in Midtown Manhattan — business was up about 20 percent during the first weekend under the new travel policy. The number of international visitors buying Statue of Liberty tickets has jumped more than 50 percent. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had 40,000 visitors from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14, the most in three days over a weekend since the pandemic began. And a few thousand more people are walking through Times Square.

“In the last week, it felt like I woke up from a coma and everything was just normal,” said Andrew Martinez, the owner of BO’s Bagels in Harlem, a popular stop for European visitors on tours that take in Harlem churches. He said a flood of visitors who did not speak English had come in, enough to make him feel he had hired two new employees just in time.

Tourism had become increasingly important to the city’s economy in the years before the pandemic, and international visitors represent 20 percent of the city’s tourists but roughly half of the dollars from tourism. This year’s total is projected to be about $24 billion, roughly half the 2019 total.

And they go to museums, Broadway shows and concerts. About 70 percent of the tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square are bought by tourists, and roughly half of them are foreign travelers. The Metropolitan Opera says that international ticket sales accounted for about 20 percent of total box office revenue over the last five seasons.

For the Metropolitan Museum, attracting foreign tourists is such a priority that the Met ran a full-page advertisement in newspapers in Hong Kong, London, Paris and Toronto. “We reopened in August 2020, but have been missing one critical thing — you, our international visitors,” the ad says. “The Met is only The Met when it is being enjoyed daily by visitors around the world.”

For their part, tour operators and ticket vendors overseas say they have started to see their New York business bounce back. And many New York businesses that depend on foreign travelers expect bigger numbers as the end-of-the-year holidays approach.

Bookings at Q4 — a hostel in a former bank building in Long Island City, Queens — are nearly sold out this week and around the holidays next month, said Aaron Lajara, a manager. The rest of December is picking up, he said.

It is a happy change for Lajara, who survived on unemployment benefits and federal stimulus checks during the 19 months when the hotel was closed.

“Financially, it was a struggle,” he said. “I was excited mentally to come back to work.”


In a mostly sunny day in the low 40s, expect some wind gusts. The evening is clear, with temps in the 30s.

alternate-side parking

In effect until Thursday (Thanksgiving Day).

“We conclude that there is overwhelming evidence that the former governor engaged in sexual harassment.”

That sentence, in a 46-page report released on Monday, summarized one element of the New York State Assembly’s investigation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It reinforced the findings of a separate investigation by the state attorney general that found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women.

My colleagues Grace Ashford and Luis Ferré-Sadurní write that the Assembly report went beyond the sexual harassment allegations, finding that Cuomo abused his power to produce a memoir for which he received a $5.1 million advance. Investigators hired by the Assembly Judiciary Committee said that Cuomo had “utilized the time of multiple state employees, as well as his own, to further his personal gain” with the book. The investigators said that “certain senior state officials worked extensively on the book” and that one senior state official had explained that “the work was not voluntary.”

The Assembly report also faulted Cuomo as “not fully transparent” about nursing home deaths during the pandemic. His administration was caught up in a controversy over its handling of data following reports that the state was undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.

[Read the Assembly report on Cuomo.]

The Assembly inquiry was commissioned to lay the foundation for potential impeachment proceedings against Cuomo, a possibility that he pre-empted when he resigned in August. He has repeatedly attacked the investigation that ultimately prompted his departure — conducted by outside lawyers hired by the state attorney general, Letitia James — as politically motivated. James, a Democrat, is now running for governor.

Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s lawyer, said the Assembly report “simply parrots the attorney general’s flawed report.” Glavin also said the Assembly had “refused to provide the former governor with access to all the evidence, again denying the governor due process and a meaningful ability to respond.”

“This is disappointing,” she said, “but hardly surprising.”

You know the end of the year is approaching when lists of the best this or that appear. The editors of The New York Times Book Review published “100 Notable Books of 2021” on Monday. The New York Public Library’s best-books list is out today — 295 books in four categories (children, teens, adults and for children in Spanish). One book, “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America,” by Clint Smith, was one of the library’s top 10 books for adults and was among The Times’s 100 notable books. The Times called it “timely and profound, an eloquent view of a history we have yet fully to confront.”

The library’s list was chosen by committees of librarians who read voraciously — the panel that chose the 100 titles on the “best books for kids” list read 1,665 books in total. “The committees are made up of librarians who deal with real readers every day,” said Lynn Lobash, the library’s associate director of reader services. “They understand what readers really want. Not everyone wants to read literary fiction. Some people want to read paranormal romance. Other people want to read poetry. The list reflects that. There’s something for every reader there.”

Dear Diary:

I used to stop at the deli near my apartment almost daily to pick up a few things.

One day, I was short a couple of dollars and asked the cashier if I could make up the difference the next time I was there. She said that was fine.

I stopped in the next day.

“I owe you some money,” I said.

She checked a note taped to the register with four or five amounts, with handwritten Korean-language characters next to each.

“$2.59,” she said.

“That’s correct,” I said. “But you don’t know my name. What is written there?”

“Big eyes,” she said without looking up. “$2.59.”

— Noelle Nichols

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero, Jeffrey Furticella, Rick Martinez and Olivia Parker contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at

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Source: Einnews

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