Despite Covid impacts, New York’s tourism industry on bumpy road to recovery in 2022 – NBC New York


What there is to know

  • Small businesses face a myriad of hurdles that are hurting their bottom line, including lingering concerns about Omicron variants, labor shortages, supply chain constraints and inflationary pressures.
  • New York City took first place for the best destination for food lovers in the country for 2022.
  • The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) predicts that this year will welcome the next phase of a bumpy road to recovery – ringing in the year of the “new” traveler.

The Big Apple has seen the lights go out on Broadway, must-visit restaurants close their doors and destination hotels close during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As New York’s tourism sector attempts to remain resilient in 2022, there also appear to be more hurdles ahead.

Big Apple employment in the restaurant, retail and leisure sectors fell by just under 170,000 jobs in November 2021, representing more than 40% of total employment in the sector private sector lost since November 2019, according to the latest state economic report.

About 10% of all jobs lost in the United States during this period belonged to New York. More than half of the jobs lost in New York State were in the city.

Small businesses face a myriad of hurdles that hurt their bottom line, including lingering concerns about omicron variants, labor shortages, supply chain constraints, and inflationary pressures.

Restaurant staff juggle orders

Chris Barish is the owner of tourist and local hotspot Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, which offers gourmet burgers and outrageous milkshakes. For the past two years, he’s compared navigating the pandemic to an Olympic ping-pong game.

“Black Tap was born and raised in New York City in 2015. We’re living in these unprecedented times, and I have a lot on my mind. First, it’s about making sure that whatever the mandates, we always respect them and build our team,” Barish told NBC New York.

Black Tap / Aleksander Michaud

Barish keeps up to date with city or state changes, such as the reinstatement of to-go cocktails. When dealing with a small staff, he has learned to lean on his core team, not only handing over responsibility, but maintaining sanity.

“We’ve had people in high positions rush in and be hosts for the day. Our corporate executive has been working double shifts. We’ve had to adjust hours at times. It’s a delicate balance, not only making sure to serve the guests, but preserving the sanity of the team,” Barish said.

A new New York small business study by Goldman Sachs cited recruiting candidates for open positions as the top problem. Additionally, when it comes to supply chain issues, nearly 70% of respondents say suppliers favor large companies over small companies due to order volume.

While the workforce continues to see shortages, a trend within the restaurant industry is to limit menu options. Less is more if it can maintain efficient deal flow.

Salil Mehta is the chef and owner of Wau, a Southeast Asian restaurant located on the Upper West Side.

Although this restaurateur notes a significant drop in sales, over 60% over the holidays, he hopes this season’s NYC Restaurant Week will raise awareness of the industry’s struggles.

“Consumers have become more accepting of adventurous flavors and experiences,” Mehta said.

In Tripadvisor’s annual Traveler’s Choice Awards for destinations, New York City took first place for the nation’s top foodie destination for 2022.

Wau / Emilio Pandika

Credit: Wau / Emilio Pandika

Hotels welcome the new traveler

Last year was a pivotal year for the hospitality industry. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) predicts that this year will welcome the next phase of a bumpy road to recovery – ringing in the year of the “new” traveler.

The new report calls it a “bliesure,” blending business and leisure or vice versa, and says it represents a profound shift in consumer behavior. Travelers moving forward are looking for useful maps and destinations.

In the heart of Midtown, Staypineapple is a boutique hotel that prides itself on an extraordinary experience. Managing Director Andrew Brown has seen this trend in bookings.

Stay the pineapple

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“Our business mix has always been heavy with leisure travellers, but we have seen leisure demand increase mid-week in addition to weekends. We are also seeing longer length of stay for some travelers from business that we believe is driven by a longer visit to their main office,” Brown mentioned.

For the AHLA, leisure travel will recover faster than business travel, creating a new landscape for more domestic tourists. John Beck is the general manager of the Manhattan Hotel and is no stranger to this concept.

“The biggest change we are seeing is that the customer is not relying on as many hotel services. Customers are not expecting a room to be cleaned every day. terms of booking itineraries,” said Beck, who operates Crowne Plaza HY36.

New York City kicked off its first-ever Hotel Week with more than 100 participating stays offering discounts through the Winter Outing program.

Flip the switch

Broadway returns this season with timely 2-for-1 tickets to more than a dozen shows. For Beck, relying on Broadway tourism right now is crucial to getting back to business at the hotel, which is offering its own Return to Broadway package.

This comes after a difficult month in December.

Eighteen productions canceled performances before Christmas, while five shows closed permanently due to extreme uncertainty during the winter season.

Broadway producer Kevin McCollum has suspended the musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which remains on hiatus until mid-March. McCollum explained that he’s not “throwing in the towel” but it’s a way to save production for spring, as CNBC reports.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Girl from the North Country” have teamed up to take a break amid omicron’s recent surge, which has led to questions about what it leaves for artists’ well-being.

But the human need and desire remains to attend not only the Great White Way, but also performances throughout the city.

We saw the creative community’s ability to come together last summer while we were still in the midst of the pandemic. People came and we got to do so many things outside. People were hungry for art, music, dance, so we know the need is there.

Lea Johnson
EVP, Chief Communications, Marketing & Advocacy Officer | Lincoln Center.

The success of Restart Stages has shown that audiences are slowly but surely coming back with an appeal to hyperlocal tourism.

Johnson notes the importance of building relationships with community organizations in outlying boroughs by co-hosting shows on the same stage.

Lincoln Center looks forward to reopening David Geffen Hall this fall, which will make it a more versatile theater in addition to expanding the use of a nearly 24-hour public space.


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