Start spreading the news: New York wants tourists back

New York (AFP) –


New York City announced a $30 million advertising campaign Wednesday designed to entice tourists back to the Big Apple and revive an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Bill de Blasio described the marketing blitz, dubbed "NYC Reawakens" and set to launch in June, as the city's "largest-ever" drive to promote tourism.

"We need to let people know we're open for business," he told reporters.

"It's safe, come here. Join this amazing moment. Come to this city that's been so heroic during this crisis," De Blasio added.

New York is gradually reopening on the back of a vigorous vaccination rollout that is keeping Covid-19 positivity rates around five percent.

Sports teams including the New York Yankees and New York Knicks are playing in front of fans again while museums, restaurants and some shows are operating at reduced capacities.

Broadway, however, is not due to restart until September, although officials haven't ruled out an earlier return.

The pandemic has left business areas deserted and led to the closure of thousands of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels.

Crime and homelessness have also increased, reminding some locals of the gritty and sometimes dangerous New York of the 1970s and '80s.

The return of tourists is seen as key to the revival of the city that never sleeps.

Only 22 million tourists visited last year, down from almost 67 million tourists in 2019, according to the city's tourism organization NYC & Company.

The group is expecting 36.4 million visitors this year and predicts that it will be 2024 before numbers exceed their pre-pandemic level.

Due to international travel restrictions, "NYC Reawakens" will initially target Americans before expanding globally once pandemic controls allow it.

De Blasio said he had no doubt that 400,000 jobs linked to New York City tourism before the pandemic "will come back."