NYC ready for tourism boost as international travel restrictions lift next week

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The United States is just days away from saying welcome back to foreign visitors, and Americans are ready to travel too, but is now the right time?

With a blustery Autumn chill in the air, Times Square on Thursday night was almost like you remember it -- packed with tourists -- all telling the folks back home how great the big city is.

Tourism is but a fraction of what it was pre-pandemic, so anemic in fact, the Crowne Plaza, an 800-room hotel in the heart of Times Square, hasn't bothered to reopen.

But they may want to reconsider.

"The floodgates are gonna open on November 8, and international travel is going to start to slowly return to New York City," said Chris Haywood with NYC and Company.

On Monday, vaccinated tourists from other countries will be allowed to come to the United States for the first time since the pandemic started.

They will be coming, at first anyway, in droves.



When the announcement was made, internet searches on international flights jumped 338%. Delta Airlines alone saw bookings shoot up 450%. United Airlines will ferry 30,000 international travelers to the U.S. in one day on Nov. 8, and with all that extra demand, prices are inching back toward normal.

"It's been, first of all, a long 20 months, your perception of time changes," said Peter Roth with Hyatt at Grand Central.

The Hyatt at Grand Central opened Monday after being shuttered for 20 months because of the pandemic. Roth said he might not have opened at all if tourists from abroad were not on their way.

"That was basically the best news for the holiday season, because it's the missing last piece of the puzzle, I would say," Roth said.

The tourist promotion agency, NYC and Company, is preparing ads for foreign TV markets, hoping to get foreign tourists who will spend more money on vacation.

"They stay longer, they spend more money, they do things like see two or three Broadway shows, they explore for five to seven nights on average, so they are so critical," Haywood said.

The Hyatt at Grand Central is sold out for Marathon weekend, and the next several weeks already look promising.

With all the pent-up demand, it will be easy to get tourists to come in November and over the holidays, but the question is, what will happen during the winter and next year.

Haywood is optimistic and expects 8 million tourists from abroad next year.

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