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Thread: The Tourists Are Back

  1. #1

    Default The Tourists Are Back

    December 29, 2003

    The Tourists Are Back in New York, in Case You Haven't Noticed

    By ROBERT F. WORTH

    The tourists are back.

    For the last few weeks, they have packed the streets of Midtown Manhattan like a motley invading army, tilting their heads back to gaze at the skyscrapers and filling the air with a broken music of French and Bengali, Slovak and Texan.

    Official statistics are hard to come by. But for the last week, more than 1,000 tourists a day have been dropping by NYC & Company's Visitor Information Center, a level not reached since before Sept. 11, 2001, a spokeswoman said.

    "We have been seeing the numbers we used to see," she added. "It's like a new beginning."

    Of course, the tourists never truly left — not at Christmas, anyway, when New York has always been a magnet for visitors. But if anecdotal evidence means anything, they have come this year in larger droves than ever, undeterred by orange alerts, early snowstorms and reports of tainted American beef.

    Yesterday, with the sun shining and the temperature above 50, the streets were jammed with camera-toting, finger-pointing visitors. Worries about terrorism seemed to have melted into the past.

    "Orange alert? I think it's some kind of marketing thing," said Jeroen Vanwyk, a publisher from Brussels who was shopping on 34th Street near Seventh Avenue with his wife, Marleen, and their son, Tibo, 4. "It could be green, or whatever. It doesn't matter."

    A few blocks away, tourists were asking police officers with machine guns if they would pose with them for snapshots, as though the officers were beefeaters standing guard at the Tower of London.

    "I have no worries," Antonio Romito, an entrepreneur visiting from Genoa, Italy, said as he stood in line outside the Empire State Building. "Life is life — you could fall on the sidewalk and die."

    Favorable exchange rates were a powerful incentive to make the trip to the United States, some European tourists said. The euro's value against the dollar has risen over the last year. Other tourists said they wanted to see ground zero; some said they were taking a trip they had postponed last year.

    Whatever the tourists' motives, New Yorkers seemed to view the flood of outsiders with surprise and crusty resignation.

    "It's really crazy," said Joe Klaus, 45, a salesman who lives in Manhattan and was at Penn Station yesterday to see off a friend who had visited from Pennsylvania. "There's twice the usual amount of people. Yesterday it was almost impossible to get down the street around here."

    Some foreigners shared that sentiment.

    "There are so many tourists!" said Mojca Tomse, 34, who is from Slovenia and had never been to New York until last week.

    Slovenia's population is about 2 million, said Ms. Tomse, who was standing in line to buy tickets for "42nd Street" with her son, Ziga, 14, and two friends of hers.

    "Here, it's a great city," she said. "Ljubljana, our capital, it's like a village."

    At first, Ms. Tomse found the city too artificial, said her childhood friend, Marko Zupanc, a Slovenian who speaks better English than she does and is studying at Fordham University. Slovenia has alpine vistas and unspoiled lakes, he said, but no equivalent of Times Square.

    "There was so much plastic and lights here," he said, gesturing at the marquees and billboards of West 42nd Street. Now, he added, Ms. Tomse and her son have "started to see the beauty in these artificial things."

    To some tourists, crowds and artificiality were the whole point.

    "We're here to relax," said Mr. Vanwyk, gesturing at the swelling crowds on 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. "Just a normal street situation — this is what New York is all about."

    For others, the multilingual crowds have been unremarkable.

    "It's really not that much different from home," said Gino Serra of London, who was waiting in line at the Empire State Building with his wife, Heidi. "I suppose all major cities are alike these days."

    In fact, it is often difficult to tell the difference between tourists and New Yorkers. Mr. Serra, who had never seen the city until Thursday, could easily be mistaken for a native, with his fashionably tousled hair and blasé attitude.

    A few blocks north, Avi Anobian chatted in Farsi with a friend, seemingly every bit the foreigner. But he seemed to take umbrage at the suggestion that he might not be a local.

    "I'm from Brooklyn," said Mr. Anobian, who immigrated from Iran.

    A few tourists give themselves away by staring at the city with a glimmer of uncertain recognition.

    "It's cleaner than in the past," said Mr. Romito, the visitor from Genoa, who last saw Manhattan in 1983. "But the traffic is worse, and there are more people.

    "It's changed," he added, with a trace of sadness. "Too much."


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Tourists Are Back

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    December 29, 2003

    The Tourists Are Back in New York, in Case You Haven't Noticed


    "It's changed," he added, with a trace of sadness. "Too much."
    Is it true? What do you think, zippy? Was it better in the past? I assume the traffic is a real issue, same for the increasing of taxes, but for the rest????

  3. #3
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    Change is good, especially when some of the changes are cleanliness and safety in the streets.

    But at the same time, the city traffic is still a nightmare, they have problems with things like crosstown traffic (like the other side of the city is a different world or something) and the HUGE metro transit system needs some MAJOR overhauling (some stations way out on the N and R are SERIOUSLY unsafe, nevermind "modern").

    I am still amazed that there are areas in this city that are underdeveloped or in a sorry state of affairs after looking around myself and seeing how EXPENSIVE any land or domicile is in the city proper. There is still so much run down schmutz in areas that are NOT that far away. It sort of makes you wonder.

  4. #4

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    Is it true? What do you think, zippy? Was it better in the past? I assume the traffic is a real issue, same for the increasing of taxes, but for the rest????
    No. There was nothing better about NYC 25 years ago.

    Traffic is worse, but I have no sympathy for people foolish enough to drive anywhere near 6 Ave & 50 St on a Sat night in Dec between shows at Radio City.

  5. #5

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    Yeah, i remember the first time i came to NY (15 year's ago), i asked the bartender of the hotel whether the metro is a save area. Sure you can figure out what his answer was....Thanks to the NYtimes, i daily read articles about the Ny area and, from here, the situation seems to be alot better now but, as you said, some neighborhood might still be unsaved. Bah you just simply avoid them.
    You know, somethimes i'm really confused: if you imagine the huge number of non US citizens "wannabees" (or related) living in NY now and by the other hands you know that it's really hard to have a decent live in your state due to taxes, traffic, : how is this possible?????

  6. #6

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    August 5, 2004

    Foreigners Shun New York, Keeping Hotel Rates Down

    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

    More tourists visited New York City last year than any time in recent history, but international visitors continue to shun the city and daily hotel rates remain far below those in 2000, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday.

    More than 37 million people stayed in hotels, slept on friends' couches, visited museums and ate in restaurants last year, a 7 percent increase over 2002, according to figures from NYC & Company, the city's tourism office. But those who stayed in hotels paid an average of about $192 a night, 17 percent less than in 2000.

    Mr. Bloomberg and the president of the tourism bureau, Cristyne L. Nicholas, also said that tourism continued to increase this year, and that their survey of hotels, convention organizers and other groups that cater to visitors found that few had experienced a drop in business this week, after federal warnings about possible terrorist attacks in the city.

    However, international conflicts did have an impact on tourism in 2003, they conceded. "I don't think there is any question that SARS and Iraq and Madrid and all of the terrorism in Israel" hurt the city's tourism business, Mr. Bloomberg said, particularly in the first quarter of 2003, when the war in Iraq and SARS depressed travel worldwide.

    While visitors booked 19.5 million hotel rooms last year - a 3 percent increase over 2002 - the city took in $204.5 million in hotel taxes, 10 percent less than in 2000. "We are very pleased that we are announcing a record number of visitors," Ms. Nicholas said, "but when it comes to the economy, we have some work to do."

    The bulk of the problem stems from a decline in international visitors. According to the information provided by the city, New York City is the favorite American destination for visitors from abroad. However, the number of foreign visitors to New York City dropped 5.7 percent last year from the year before.

    That drop reflected a nationwide trend. Foreign visitors to the United States fell 2.2 percent overall in 2003, the third straight year of declines.

    "It was not surprising the New York was hit especially hard since it is one of the top states visited by international travelers," said Cathy Keefe, spokeswoman for the Travel Industry Association of America. Overall travel prices have fallen since 2000 but have begun to increase over the last nine months, she added.

    The decline of foreign tourism can have a pronounced effect on the market, officials said.

    "One of the problems is that international tourists spend a lot more," Mr. Bloomberg said. "They tend to go toward more expensive rooms. So if you're full with American tourists, you don't have the pricing power you would have if you had international tourists."

    Interestingly, there was a large spike in family travel to New York City last year - a 13.6 percent increase over the prior year. Ms. Nicholas attributed that increase in part to Miffy - a cartoon bunny that has appeared on merchandise and other items to promote New York City.

    Iris Citron, the president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents, said that terrorism alerts might not deter domestic travel, but could be affecting international visits. "All of the alerts that the government puts out may be inhibiting people from coming," Ms. Citron said. Lower hotel rates can help the city, Ms. Citron added, as long as they spurred spending. "You would think with lower rates more people would be coming in. If people are spending money in the city, so be it. They may be attracting more people because those rates are low."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Disturbing report.

  8. #8

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    I've seen quite a few stories about European tourists staying away because of the smoking ban. I wonder if that has anything to do with the drop.

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    I think NYC still welcomed more int'l tourists than the next 2 locations combined, though.

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    Smoking? Hmmm. I would've guessed it had more to do with our national foreign policy. I know there are places that Bush has made "unwelcoming" to me as an American due to his actions on the international stage.

  11. #11

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    That's very true.

  12. #12
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    Crain's

    Big Apple tourism business booming

    A record number of tourists flocked to the Big Apple this year, according to preliminary numbers compiled by the city's tourism office.

    NYC & Co. says about 39.6 million people visited New York City during the year, up 4.7% from last year's record 37.8 million.

    About 5.3 million international visitors are forecast to have taken a holiday in the city. That is 10.2% more than last year but still 22% below the number of overseas tourists that spent time in the city in 2000. About 34.3 million domestic visitors came to New York City.

    Overall, tourist spending is on the rise. NYC & Co. estimates visitors spent $15.1 billion while taking in the the town. That is about 4% above last year's forecast but still 11% below the record set in 2000.

  13. #13

  14. #14

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    The increase of domestic tourists this year is 3.8%. The increase in international tourism is 2.6 times that, at 10.2%.

    Much of this can be attributed to the dollar-euro exchange rate. Relatively speaking, America is a bargain for Europeans, but Americans are finding Europe more expensive.

  15. #15

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    December 15, 2004

    ADVERTISING

    To Lure British Tourists to the U.S., Marketers Turn to Cinema


    A print ad in the campaign uses "Spider-Man." Other advertisements will feature films like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "L.A. Story."


    By HEATHER TIMMONS

    LONDON

    A CAMPAIGN encouraging tourists to come to the United States starts this week in Britain, part of a Commerce Department effort begun after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The $4 million campaign, by the Los Angeles office of the British agency M&C Saatchi, plays heavily on the British love of American movies, as illustrated by the theme "You've seen the films, now visit the set." Print, television and billboard ads will feature clips from films like "Thelma and Louise," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "L.A. Story" (but presumably not "Deliverance" or "The Ice Storm").

    "This is the first time we've truly marketed the United States as a tourism destination," Douglas B. Baker, a deputy assistant secretary for the Commerce Department, said.

    The campaign is intended to show that the United States is the "most desirable and exciting long-haul travel destination on earth," Mr. Baker said.

    A party to introduce the campaign last night at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts featured a screening of "National Treasure," the new Nicolas Cage movie. Refreshments included pizza and Budweiser beer, and guests were given New York Yankees caps.

    The British campaign is a pilot program, Mr. Baker said, and may be expanded next year, when the Commerce Department will have $10 million for tourism advertising.

    Television commercials start running on Sunday and a print campaign begins next month. The ads feature scenes from hit movies, like shots of Spider-Man flitting across the skyline of Manhattan or chases from "Beverly Hills Cop II."

    Other movies cited include "Maid in Manhattan," "The Alamo" and "Viva Las Vegas."

    While the campaign is a groundbreaking move for the United States government, it is still a scaled-down version of the original plans.

    About $50 million was allocated after 9/11 to promote tourism in the United States, but eight months later that budget was cut by $46 million.

    Plans to advertise in Germany, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Britain, the five countries that already send the most tourists to the United States, were whittled to cover just Britain.

    If the campaign is successful, the Commerce Department may also expand to other countries its message about the virtues of traveling to America, Mr. Baker said.

    The campaign comes as British travel to the United States is surging. Encouraged by the strength of the pound, the British have already been flocking across the Atlantic to go shopping.

    The British Travel Agents Association reported that travel to America was up 13 percent last summer compared with a year ago.

    Travel agents said that the re-election of George W. Bush, who is unpopular in Britain, has not dented bookings for trips to the United States.

    Besides New York, Florida and Las Vegas are popular destinations for British travelers, travel agents said.

    In March, M&C Saatchi joined with the public relations agency Edelman, owned by Daniel J. Edelman Inc., and BVK, an agency with offices in cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Tampa, Fla., to form the Visit America Alliance, the contractor for the campaign. The agencies said they conducted extensive surveys of British attitudes about visiting the United States.

    A survey conducted in Britain by the Commerce Department in July found that the United States tied for second place with Australia in a ranking of "dream destinations," behind New Zealand. Canada came in third. M&C Saatchi, with headquarters in London, is the worldwide agency for British Airways.

    While no specific airline tie-ins to the campaign have been announced, the Visit America Alliance said 70 travel and tourism partners would participate in the campaign, mainly for attractions in Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla. That will extend the value of the promotion by an estimated $2 million.


    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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