We are reminded again this week that the world can change in a moment. Deplorable Russian aggression is rattling global stability, but Ukrainian courage is also providing inspiration. Closer to home, the announcement of the relaxation of mask requirements and other Covid mitigation policies will result in an accelerated reopening of the city, already visible at the Broadway box office, where both grosses and capacity (92%!) continue to trend upward. Other tourism data includes:
- Hotels hit highest occupancy of the year. Despite being in the January and February lull, NYC hotel occupancy is on the way up, hitting 70% over the Valentine's weekend. Hotel general manager John Beck of the Crowne Plaza HY36 reports his hotel will be above 90% occupancy for April. Another barometer: U.S. air traffic is the highest it's been in 3 months.
- Thirty-nine percent of travelers have their next trip planned for the next two months, setting up a strong Spring Break travel season. The vast majority of travelers (70%) report feeling safe traveling outside their community, bringing us back to pre-Omicron levels. “Spring and summer travel look strong for 2022,” says Amir Eylon, president and CEO of Longwoods International, which administered the survey.
- The return to work in NYC is real this time. That's the argument in a new Times piece, with major employers reporting calendar dates for employees to be back. Not only is this already contributing to bumps in entertainment and dining spending, it accentuates the atmosphere of a returning normalcy.
Mayor Adams isn't concerned about lifting Key2NYC requirements while there's an influx of visitors. “We want tourism back," he says. "It’s a major economic boost for us.”
Starting Thursday and running through next Monday, nights at Edge feature SKYLIGHT. A Northern Lights Inspired Experience. An immersive light display will illuminate the outdoor skydeck; a large-scale cloud display indoors will accommodate the selfie set.
Winner! Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City Tourism
Congrats to City Guide's Eli Marcus, winner of the 2022 Apple Awards in the category of "OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN SUPPORT of NEW YORK CITY TOURISM."
The Apple Awards are produced by the Guides Association Of New York City and honor individuals and organizations that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides.
A well-deserved honor for "The Mayor of Times Square"!!
A Fearlessly New, Fiercely Now “for colored girls” Arrives on Broadway
When it debuted 46 years ago, Ntozake Shange’s iconic celebration of Black womanhood broke new ground. An all-Black, all-female cast filled the stage with powerful, humorous, and unvarnished stories of resilience and sisterhood. The New York Times went on to declare, “Shange writes with such exquisite beauty that anyone can relate to her message.”
Read more here.
Links of Interest
- Legendary music venue The Iridium has reopened
- Trendy new Pebble Bar now open in former Hurley’s space in Rock Center
- Una Pizza Napoletana reopening tomorrow after two-year hiatus
- Ninth Avenue International Food Festival to return May 14th-15th
- NYC Marathon to return at full capacity
- Hotel delinquencies falling as tourists pull sector back from the brink
- Travel group calls for the end of Covid restrictions
- Luxury travel is the next pandemic era trend
- Despite COVID and war, Airbus CEO says international travel will grow
A Hotel Concierge Lunch at Cucina 8½
City Guide co-hosted a hotel concierge lunch on Thursday, February 24th at Cucina 8½, 9 W. 57th St., one of New York's finest new Italian restaurants. Please contact Events Director Joanne DeSantis for future groups, private parties, or events.
February 23, 2022
“If you want some good news, it is that tourists or leisure travelers are returning pretty much in force,” says NYU professor Sean Hennessey in a recent Times article on Omincron and tourism, “and amazingly enough, they are in many cases willing to pay more for a night’s room than they were prior to Covid." The spring travel outlook is strong, with traveler intentions setting pandemic-era records—more than 1 in 5 American travelers already have trips planned for April and May. Other signs of a heating-up tourism economy include:
- Observatory traffic is surging at the Empire State Building. ESB beat analyst expectations with a 41% jump in visitors 4th quarter over 3rd—and that despite Omicron.
- Third time is the charm for reopening NYC. Crain's reports Crowne Plaza HY36 had record requests for future bookings, amid broader city trends pointing toward larger gatherings. “Demand is so pent-up,” says John Beck, the hotel’s general manager.
- The return of Revenge Travel. “I do expect things to bounce back, but in a broader context, spending has already been very strong,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Omicron dented the economy but did less damage than previous waves.” Nationally, travel agents, hotel operators, and restaurateurs report dramatic spikes in demand.
NYC & Co. is anticipating 85% of 2019's peak visitation by year end (reflecting a full domestic recovery and international travel at 82% of peak levels). Strong forward bookings are being reported as well, approaching pre-pandemic levels. “All signals are pointing to the beginning of the end of international travel restrictions due to the pandemic,” says Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, noting the sharp rise in traveler comfort around safety.
The Orchid Show returns to The New York Botanical Garden this Saturday, with extended programming on select evenings.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- How NYC's indie venues are dealing with the return of audiences
- Serafina now open in Hell's Kitchen, with speakeasy attached
- Iberostar 70 Park Avenue now booking rooms
- New rooftop lounge Darling coming to the top of the Park Lane New York March 26th
- Jeff Klein, founder of JK Hotel Group, plans members-only conversion of The Jane
- City rents spiking with record drop in apartment inventory
- Latest dates and notes for Broadway and Off Broadway
- A look at 2022 hotel performance to date
- Stock soars for travel tech company Sabre on the basis of spike in global bookings
- Leisure travel led to $1 billion profit for Marriott last year, corporate travel is slow but improving
- Hilton and Wyndham return to profitability, with Hilton business travel back to 80% pre-pandemic levels
- Airbnb ends 2021 up 25% over 2019; Avis Budget Group posted record 4th quarter
- Florida: latest tourist numbers higher than before pandemic
- California adopts nation's first 'endemic' virus policy
JANUARY 2022 NEW YORK CITY TOURISM NEWS
Eric Adams has been sworn in as the 110th mayor of New York City and you can already feel the shift in energy. Adams's visit to Pearl River Mart in Chinatown yesterday included the announcement of an overhaul of the city's approach to small businesses, with agencies ordered to review the violations they issue and shift from punishing to partnering. Adams also advocated for speeding up the return to offices.
There is no ignoring the Omicron variant, but there is plenty of scientific evidence that this latest surge will not be long lasting. South Africa notes its peak has passed, with a 30% drop in week over week cases in late December. In the U.S., Columbia researchers estimate infections could top out next week; the University of Washington puts the peak at February 6th.
Broadway news is full of cancellations and closings, but the latter are par for the course this time of year. Digging a little deeper into the box office numbers reveals grosses nearly doubled last week over the week before; average ticket price was $150, a high water mark for the past few months.
Travel agents report that Omicron is not dampening bookings. They say that by this stage of the pandemic, travelers know what they're signing on for and are doubling down on their resolve. Despite weather, Covid, and cancellations, the holiday travel numbers were sky high. "Our business has not been affected by Omicron," notes Bruce Rosenberg, President of HotelPlanner. "Omicron is actually seeing a spike for us, so sales are up...We're seeing a huge rebound."
In New York City we will probably have to wait a little longer, but that rebound is coming.
Links of Interest
- NYC Hotel Week has launched, with 20% discounts through February 13th
- New Hilton property Motto Chelsea celebrates its grand opening today
- James Monroe Iglehart joining Chicago cast as Billy Flynn starting January 17th
- The latest dates and notes for Broadway and Off Broadway
- The Post looks at city's perseverance in face of Covid
- New hotels for NYC despite Covid spike
- Manhattan's hottest restaurant openings for January
- Danny Meyer to require boosters for diners, employees
- Palace Theatre at TSX Broadway begins its lift to 30 feet over Times Square on Friday
- Touro College signs massive Times Square lease
- Do hotels need a human touch for hospitality?
- Travel trends for hospitality in 2022
- More travel trends for 2022
- 2022 preview: hotels
- 2022 preview: airlines
- Hotels to go on a deal-making bender this year
- Omicron's impact on business travel
- U.S. contemplating vax mandate for domestic flights
- NYC consumer financial services company Bankrate looks at holiday travel and 2022 travel trends
- UWS's Excelsior Hotel to be converted to apartments
- Boozy bubble tea spot Bubbleology Tea hangs it up in the East Village
- Metro Pictures founders look back after close
Rentbrella Comes to NYC
Rentbrella has launched in NYC, bringing a Citi Bike-style experience to the realm of rain repelling. The Brazilian mobility and technology company has installed more than 35 umbrella sharing stations in high-traffic areas across Manhattan. Users can access umbrella sharing for a free 24-hour period. Available on the App Store and Google Play, the Rentbrella platform provides users the location of the nearest sharing station, with plans to expand to over 300 city spots this year. The company was founded in part to reduce waste and improve sustainability.
Times Square Alliance Hosted Special Guests for New Year's Eve Countdown
Michael Hull for the Times Square Alliance.
Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, co-organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve, honored Broadway performers at 2021's New Year's Eve. Actors Michael James Scott (Aladdin), Mary Claire King (Chicago) and Ben Crawford (The Phantom of the Opera) represented the performing arts community and served as the evening’s distinguished Special Guests. The trio joined outgoing Mayor de Blasio to push the crystal button on the main stage in the center of Times Square, which signals the lowering of the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball.
The moment — viewed by billions across the world — officially begins the 60-second countdown to the New Year. Due in part to the presence of the Special Guests, the moment is historically seen as a celebration of the human spirit and a source of hope for the New Year. “As 2021 draws to a close, we are honored to shine a spotlight on the Broadway community, a group with members that individually – and as a collective - demonstrated perseveration, resiliency and dedication throughout the year,” said Tom Harris, President of the Times Square Alliance. “Times Square would not be the vibrant, thriving neighborhood that it is without its theaters and the performers who bring magic to their stages.”
The Special Guest designation is an annual tradition for Times Square New Year’s Eve that dates back to the mid-1990s. Each year since, by selecting a Special Guest, the event producers honor an inspiring individual/s who represents public service, resiliency, and the human spirit. Last year’s Special Guests were the “Heroes of 2020,” first responders, frontline and essential workers and their families who sacrificed so much in 2020 to provide care and support for their communities. Other past Special Guests include former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, former UN Secretary General Secretary Ban KiMoon, Muhammad Ali, Lady Gaga, Christopher Reeve, Medal of Honor winner Salvatore Giunta, and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke.
“The reopening of Broadway earlier this year provided a rally cry that many people around the world needed, and was a great example of our city’s strength and fortitude,” said Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment. “This year’s Special Guests helped revive the spirit of the city this year, and we want to celebrate and carry that positive energy into the New Year.”
Everything to Do Facebook Group Post of the Week
City Guide's Facebook Group Everything to Do NYC brings together more than 73,000 NYC visitors and superfans. This is a great place to get a feel for what tourists are looking for, and to be inspired by what the city can bring to travelers, as in this recent post:
We had an AMAZING time in NYC!! It was our first and we tried to do as many things as possible with the time we had. We fell in love with the city. My son wants to live there eventually. We agreed it felt very much alive everywhere we went.
The post got over 100 comments, with a debate over the relative safety of Times Square. If you're not yet a member, join us. You'll find the group is a prime resource for finding out what's going on at ground level in NYC.