Are bed bugs taking a bite out of tourism?

October 25, 2010 2:18:59 PM PDT
\We've talked about the bed bug problem in New York City, and now growing concern about the impact the pests are having on one of the cities biggest money makers.

The question: are bed bugs driving tourists away?

It is consistently rated the number one travel destination in the world.

New York City is home to some of the best hotels, but there's growing concern among tourists like Lee Stevenson that they maybe getting something a little extra with their room.

"Yes totally concerned (about bed bugs). My sister makes fun of me. I don't sleep on the sheets, Lysol my room down," Stevenson said.

The message board at the online travel site has been crawling with comments and concerns from out-of-towners about bed bugs.

Those running the website say it has seen a 12 percent increase in these kinds of posts in the first 8 months of 2010 compared to the same period last year.

But is all of this talk affecting the bottom line in what's estimated to be a 30-billion dollar tourism industry?

"It is one of our top sectors. Tourism is what sustained the city during the recession," Lisa Fickenscher of Crain's said.

And so officials at NYC & Company are taking the issue very seriously but tell Eyewitness News, "...Any cancellations to the city because of the widespread news coverage have been nominal."

Mayor Bloomberg is concerned, but he said he hopes this one comes and goes quickly.

"We have probably as good if not better health laws to prevent infestation of bedbugs, but mysteriously they turn up periodically and we'll just have deal with it," he said.