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Thread: The Tourists Are Back

  1. #16

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    January 28, 2005

    The British Are Coming, and Spending Big Money

    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

    Sheila Riley came for Macy's, evidenced by the pile of telltale red bags piled around her feet. Russell Whitehead and Robert Archibald made the trip for "Wicked." Jeff Taylor wanted to propose.

    Seb Sims's goals were admittedly more prosaic and yet they pleased him. "I came to New York to go shopping and get drunk," said Mr. Sims as he headed for a southbound No. 1 to "Greenwich." (No, not Connecticut, but why embarrass him?)

    Tourists from overseas - the most coveted of visitors thanks to their long stays and habit of shopping with abandon - are returning to New York for the first time since 2001, and no place is exporting more of them to the city than Britain, whose citizens are lured by the combination of a falling

    dollar, low air fares and an apparently insatiable lust for sneakers on the cheap.

    The British pound, which fetches almost $2 these days, goes farther in New York than in London in restaurants, theaters and stores, and rock-bottom package deals from the airlines make a quick weekend jaunt across the Atlantic all the more worthwhile.

    Then there is the shared language, coupled with that intangible something that is portrayed in film and television that shows the allure of a New York absent career worries, apartment valuations and the incalculable misery caused by C train problems.

    "We have all seen Woody Allen movies and "Sex and the City" and "NYPD Blue," said Frances Tuke, a spokeswoman for Association of British Travel Agents in London, which found that airline travel to New York from London rose 127 percent in November from the same month in 2003. "So you think it is an exciting place you have to go to. We don't hear that it is particularly dirty or unsafe. They know it is a big city and it is going to be loud and noisy and that is all O.K."

    The city's tourism bureau estimates that 5.3 million foreign tourists came to New York last year, far fewer than the 6.8 million who flooded the city in 2000 but up 10 percent from 2003. Initial estimates show that the number of tourists from Britain rose 12 percent in 2004 from 2003, when the group led the return of international tourism to New York with 870,000 visitors. (Canadians came in second with 690,000 and Japanese tourists were a distant third, with 292,000 visitors in 2003.)

    Although most foreign visitors stay longer than domestic tourists, many visitors from Britain come for short stays, taking advantage of airline and hotel packages that land them in the city for long weekends into which they pack a whirlwind tour of the key Manhattan tourist destinations, peppered with quick stops at restaurants and bars culled from guidebooks. Anthony Thomas, a scaffold worker who flew over for a long weekend with his wife, Nadine, liked McSorley's Old Ale House. "I liked that fact that it kept to its nature and that everyone who worked there was surly," he said.

    Mr. Taylor, a sergeant in the British Army, saw an image of the city on television while home in Liverpool, and decided that it was the place to propose to Heather Stokoe, a sales associate from Newcastle. "I thought that it seemed like quite a romantic place to propose," he said. He planned a long weekend in the city with requisite stops at Planet Hollywood, Bloomingdale's and Macy's and a ride in a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park. "It was there I asked her to marry me," Mr. Taylor said. "It was quite emotional, really." His bride-to-be was thrilled.

    Some random facts about British visitors, gleamed from several days of observing them:

    ¶They have an almost alarming interest in shoes, particularly sneakers (or, as they call them, trainers). "I got loads of Diesel trainers," said Mr. Whitehead, an actor from London. "They are a quarter of the price here. I bought three pairs for $25 each."

    ¶They drink such concoctions as dry vermouth with Sprite (called a martini and lemonade) and Stella Artois beer with a shot of Rose's lime juice. "They also get really tickled about fancy cocktails," said Sara Najjar, a bartender at the Hotel Metro, which is a veritable outpost of tourists from England and Scotland. "I guess because they can only get beers in their pubs over there. It's just crazy!"

    ¶They flock to Macy's as Americans might flock to Buckingham Palace, and at the department store they sate their appetite for hats, watches, handbags and coats. The store had more than 20,000 British shoppers last year, and company officials report they take advantage of the store's 11 percent discount for international visitors more than those of any other nationality.

    All international tourists have their quirks, and New York City loves all of them because they tend to stay longer, spend more money at museums and the like and are more enthusiastic about visiting the broader city than American tourists, said Cristyne L. Nicholas, president of NYC & Company, the city's tourism office.

    British travelers typically like cultural attractions and shopping, Ms. Nicholas said.



    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  2. #17

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    There was a fine young lady at the ESB when I was up. I loved her London accent!

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ILUVNYC
    I loved her London accent!
    Personally, british accent pisses me off

  4. #19

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    I just wanted to thank everyone who posted on this topic. It was absolutly interesting to read!

  5. #20

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    March 6, 2005

    If the Tourists Come to Manhattan, Where Will They Sleep?

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    xpansion of the city's convention business would bring thousands more visitors to New York City. But because of a new trend in real estate, there may not be enough room at the city's inns.

    Much of the year, Manhattan's 64,000 or so hotel rooms are effectively full. But instead of adding rooms, the industry is shrinking. From landmarks like the Plaza and the Stanhope Hotels to their dowdy cousins like the Barbizon, the Empire and the Olcott, property owners are tearing down interior walls and converting thousands of hotel rooms into apartments.

    With the average condominium in Manhattan selling for $1.2 million, there are quick fortunes to be made through conversions. But hotel union officials and some hotel owners find the trend appalling, because of the loss of jobs, and because of what it could mean to the city's plans - to expand the Javits Convention Center, double the exhibition space on the West Side piers and build a football stadium that could be used for trade shows.

    "Real estate prices have been driven up to the point where you can make more money selling off the rooms as apartments than selling them overnight as hotel rooms," said John Fox, senior vice president at PKF Consulting, which specializes in hotels. "There has not been a parallel building boom because there are no sites available for hotel development."

    Given a bumper crop of hotel sales and conversion announcements, the city appears to have lost more than 3,300 rooms in the past few years. Even the St. Regis Hotel, on 55th Street at Fifth Avenue, announced recently that it was converting 59 of its 315 rooms into no more than 33 apartments.

    In 2004 alone, the city lost an estimated 1,093 hotel rooms, with the sale and conversion of hotels like the Regent Wall Street and the InterContinental Central Park South - as well as the demolition of the Mayflower on the Upper West Side - according to the hotel consulting practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    During the same period, only three new hotels opened, with a total of 339 rooms.

    And hotel consultants say that other hotels may soon join the trend, including possibly the Plaza Athenee, the Warwick, the InterContinental Barclay, the Doral hotels and the Radisson on Lexington Avenue, as well as a small hotel in Times Square and another in Chelsea.

    "The thing about hotels is that they occupy great locations and they can be delivered empty," said Peter Ward, chairman of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. "That makes it easier for a converter to grab it and flip it to residential."

    The union has vowed to fight the trend, starting with the Plaza, at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, where it says 1,100 jobs are in jeopardy. The Elad Group, a subsidiary of an Israeli conglomerate, bought the famed, 805-room hotel last year for $675 million. The developer quickly announced plans to reconfigure the building with 200 apartments and a small, 150-room hotel, alarming the hotel union as well as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Officials say the Plaza will close April 30.

    Mr. Ward said that the conversions could undermine efforts to lure new conventions to New York now that the long-sought $1.4 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is beginning. The expansion is expected to generate an additional 400,000 hotel nights a year. And given the city's Olympic bid, Mr. Ward said, the city may need as many as 5,000 new hotel rooms.

    "I think all these big hotel companies that want to cash out for the quick buck are breaking the social contract," he said. "It's disgraceful."

    Ed Skyler, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said that the administration was very concerned about the issue. "That's why the mayor has intervened in the Plaza dispute," he said. "It's why he's always encouraging new hotel construction, whether it's the expansion of the Brooklyn Marriott or two hotels in Harlem."

    The union and others are considering remedies, including a ban on conversions and incentives for hotel construction.

    Joseph Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City, said, "It's sad to see some of these institutions being dismantled, primarily the Plaza."

    In the long run, he said, an expanding tourism and convention market would result in new hotels. He said banning conversions would probably not help. Maybe, he said, "There could be some incentives the city and state could come up with that would cause developers and owners not to convert."

    Gary Barnett, president of Intell Management, which is converting the Stanhope to co-op apartments, also said that the city should "look at selectively subsidizing the building of new hotels."

    "They're not going to get what they need for New York City to be a convention center and a great tourist attraction unless they do something about creating more supply," he said.

    But other analysts contended that most cities already ran conventions centers at a loss, to attract visitors who book hotel rooms and restaurant tables. It hardly made sense, they said, to subsidize the hotel industry as well.

    Art Adler, a managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, which sold seven hotels in New York last year, said there were still plenty of people willing to operate hotels in Manhattan. "New York is still the strongest, most diversified market anywhere in the country," Mr. Adler said.

    Graphic: Losing Ground



    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    Oh, so the Mayflower is being demolished. That's a real shame. Does anyone know what's going to replace it?

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    Tax incentives and designated hotel zoning would be a good option. Also, encourage more hotel construction in places like Harlem, T BK, LIC, and the South Bronx...close but not super prime NYC real estate. The Far West Side should have a number of lots designated soloely for hotel construction. That area is prefect for that, b/c the land is there, the need is there, and the new convention center will be there.

  8. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    Oh, so the Mayflower is being demolished. That's a real shame. Does anyone know what's going to replace it?
    Supposedly the most expensive condo tower in the history of New York.
    The developers paid an incredible price for the site.

  9. #24

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    Entertaining tourists waiting for the Statue of Liberty boat.
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  10. #25
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    That guy wigs me out - but in a humorous way. I used to see him doing his routine at the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO. Seems we both moved to New York at about the same time. Coincidence?

  11. #26
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    Foreign visitors bypassing NYC, hurting tourism
    City seeks revival at May travel show


    By Lisa Fickenscher
    Published on April 18, 2005

    New York is bustling with tourists. Hotels are full. Reservations at top restaurants are hard to come by.

    But one thing is missing. The number of international visitors to the Big Apple has dropped 32% since 2000, when a record 6.8 million foreign travelers came here.

    While domestic tourists have more than made up for the international shortfall in numbers, people from abroad spend more money. The city has missed out on about $1 billion in spending each year since 2000, when foreign tourists accounted for 19% of the pie, and today represent only 15%, according to the city's tourism bureau, NYC & Company.

    "We've come a long way, but we have further to go to rebuild New York City's tourism industry," says Cristyne L. Nicholas, chief executive of the bureau.

    Art exhibits like Central Park's The Gates and the weak dollar, which spurred a rush of shoppers to the city around the holidays, created temporary surges in foreign visitors. But underlying trends are worrisome.

    Ms. Nicholas' best hope of resuscitating international tourism here is an upcoming travel trade show, TIA International Pow Wow, which was last held in New York a decade ago. The top tour operators from around the world and 300 travel journalists will be getting an earful about New York from Ms. Nicholas and other city boosters the first week in May.

    Past Pow Wow conferences, which are sponsored by the Travel Industry Association of America, have resulted in 30% bounces in business for the host cities.

    NYC & Company expects Pow Wow, the largest U.S. travel show, to generate $1.4 billion in economic activity over the next three years.

    Describing the conference as "crucial" for New York, Ms. Nicholas is raising $4.2 million to host the event, which will include transforming Rockefeller Center into a replica of the five boroughs, complete with a sandy beach and boardwalk to depict Coney Island.

    A key challenge that the city faces still is convincing the overseas community that New York is safe.

    Many tour operators and travel agents have not been here since Sept. 11, 2001.

    The city must also play up the fact that there are new places to visit--such as a renovated Museum of Modern Art, the Time Warner Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center--in addition to hotels in Harlem, Brooklyn and on Staten Island, areas that previously lacked such amenities.


    Marketing machines

    But New York faces stiff competition. "A lot of the foreign countries we compete with have international marketing campaigns," says Ms. Nicholas. Last fall, the United States ran its first such ad in the United Kingdom.

    Meanwhile, U.S. cities are doing a good job of siphoning off New York's tourists. Foreign visitors who come here stay about five days instead of eight, taking off for such places as Orlando, Fla., and Philadelphia, which has dramatically increased its share of international tourists.

    Even with a weak dollar, there are international travelers who find New York too pricey. The average hotel room rate is back above $200 a night, so some tourists are staying in New Jersey and taking day-trips into the city. Jonathan Zuk, president of Amadeo Travel Solutions, has been booking more foreign tour groups into hotels in Weehawken and near the Meadowlands.


    Hey, big spender

    The weak dollar also has not been seductive enough for some German and Japanese tourists, who are among the biggest spenders and have not returned to the city in the same numbers as before Sept. 11.

    Vijay Dandapani, chief operating officer of Apple Core Hotels, which operates five budget properties in the city, is seeing travelers from Asian countries other than Japan replace some of the German and Japanese tourists that his properties used to host.

    Tour operators have noticed travel shifts as well.

    After Sept. 11, most people were afraid to book vacations far in advance, and waited until the last minute. Now, many U.S. travelers are making plans months ahead of time, while international tourists are still booking trips on short notice.

    Etty Scaglia, president of Accent on Dining, which books tour group reservations in city restaurants, says the capriciousness of foreign travel here pushed her to expand her business to include corporate events. "At least it's predictable business," says Ms. Scaglia.


    COPYRIGHT 2005 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS INC.

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    NYC & Company expects Pow Wow, the largest U.S. travel show, to generate $1.4 billion in economic activity over the next three years.

    Describing the conference as "crucial" for New York, Ms. Nicholas is raising $4.2 million to host the event, which will include transforming Rockefeller Center into a replica of the five boroughs, complete with a sandy beach and boardwalk to depict Coney Island.
    POW WOW? This is cool... I would love to see this... But ofcourse especially when the tourists are not around... LOL

  13. #28
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    May 25, 2005

    Campaign targets international travelers


    by Lisa Fickenscher

    The city’s tourism bureau, NYC & Company, is putting together an advertising campaign to woo international travelers back to New York.

    The number of international visitors to the city has dropped 32% since 2000, when a record 6.8 million foreign travelers came here. NYC & Company is hoping to replicate the success it had two years ago when it produced a video for Japanese tourists about New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui--the number of Japanese visitors to the city has increased 20% since then, according to tourism officials.

    The initiative includes a video, which will show all five boroughs, and public service announcements. The video is being produced pro bono by HBO and will feature an original song by Broadway lyricist, Frank Wyldehorn. “There are a lot of songs about New York that are great,” says Cristyne Nicholas, president of NYC & Company, “but this one promotes the tourism industry and the programs that we are marketing.”

    The agency is hoping that CNN International will agree to run 30-second commercials based on the video.


    COPYRIGHT 2005 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS INC.

  14. #29

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    Does anyone know how many tourists NYC gets?

  15. #30
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    I believe the most recent figure was estimated at 36.9 million per year.

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