Home Economic Development New York launches $450M tourism and hospitality recovery package

New York launches $450M tourism and hospitality recovery package

Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke from New York’s Museum of Natural History yesterday, Nov. 8, to announce the launch of the “Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs” recovery package, a comprehensive plan to support employees and businesses small and large in the sector.

Governor Hochul at the Museum of Natural History on Nov. 8, announcing the $450 million “Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs” inclusive recovery package to support New York State’s hardest-hit tourism sector workers, revitalize the state’s tourism industry, and support businesses started just prior to or during the pandemic. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

The governor was joined by representatives from various tourism, business and labor groups. 

Hochul noted that the health and recovery of the tourism industry is interconnected with New York state’s economic success.

“We bring back tourism, we bring back jobs — and that’s why today I’m very proud to announce a $450 million investment in our tourism workers and our businesses,” she said. “First in the nation — we’re doing it right here in the State of New York, first in the nation to make that level of investment in our people and in our industries.”

According to data from the state, the tourism industry accounted or one out of every 10 jobs in the state in 2019, and generated over $100 billion in economic impact. The Covid-19 pandemic caused international tourism to drop by 86% and domestic tourism to drop by 37%, resulting in a loss of half of both the direct spending and economic impact that tourism usually generates in the state. 

The governor’s new initiative coincides with the reopening of U.S. borders to tourists. 

The first part of the package is a $100 million fund for industry worker recovery. Through it, the Department of Labor will issue one-time payments of $2,750 to those workers who were on the extended federal unemployment benefits the last week before they ended, and who have yet to see their earnings recovered fully.

The state estimates as many as 36,000 qualified workers are eligible, and they will contacted via email or text. 

“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York is a model for getting much-needed relief money out the door into the hands of working Americans,” said Marty Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Labor. “New York’s forward-looking approach will bring back good paying, middle-class jobs, and it will bring back an industry that is critical to reopening our economy.”

Another $100 million will go to workers through a return-to-work grant program for the industry, in which businesses that qualify will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 per net new full-time employee or $2,500 per net new part-time employee hired. Employers must maintain employment increases over six months to qualify for the full benefit.

“Too many RWDSU members have suffered from a lack of hours or complete lack of employment due to the state’s lingering loss of tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Our members in the Airline industry have particularly been hard hit. Supporting workers who have been impacted by the decline in tourism is a necessary component for our state’s reopening.”

“Tourism is a vital economic engine for New York, and it’s powered by workers who’ve been hit hard during the pandemic,” said Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU. “We’re pleased by the Governor’s commitment to this critical sector and to a recovery that centers the workers who are its backbone. Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in our economic comeback and will deliver meaningful relief to hardworking New Yorkers.”

Gov. Hochul with tourism industry union representatives.

$200 million will go toward businesses that were started during or right before the pandemic, which were not eligible for state and federal programs throughout the pandemic, as a qualification for many assistance programs was that the business had been open a certain amount of time ahead of the onset of the pandemic in the United States. 

This initiative would be introduced via state legislation in January 2022, utilizing funding in the state’s existing $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. $325 million of that fund has been awarded so far to more than 20,000 small and micro businesses. 

“The Governor’s tourism and economic recovery package hits the target. In order for NY to fully recover from the Covid pandemic, we need to help the industries and small businesses that were mandated to shut down for our public health & safety,” said Mark Jaffe, president and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce. “It makes sense to provide incentives for tourism-based businesses (like restaurants, retail hotels. entertainment, cultural institutions and convention centers) so that they can hire the new employees that they desperately need.  We can only boost employment in the tourism sector by providing pay incentives for those who are willing to go back to work as we come out of the pause. No doubts this package will help us recover.”

The state is also looking to increase business travel, and has set aside $25 million to provide grants for convention and conference centers, which will subsidize discounts for qualifying venues and hotels to offer to business travelers or groups. 

The last part of the comprehensive plan will focus on a global I LOVE NY tourism marketing campaign, at a cost of $25 million. 

“Tourism is a key part of New York State’s diverse economy,” said Kevin Younis, COO and executive deputy commissioner of Empire State Development. “It supports jobs and businesses across an array of industries by allowing us to share all the incredible attractions, events and experience we have to offer with visitors from around the globe. The return of tourism is vital to the growth and sustainability of our economic future, and these new initiatives will help us revitalize this struggling industry.”

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