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‘BRING BACK TOURISM, BRING BACK JOBS’: New York State launches massive, $450M tourism initiative to kickstart economy

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a comprehensive ‘Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs’ recovery effort on Tuesday. The package includes support for the state’s hardest hit tourism sector workers, and focuses on revitalizing the state’s tourism industry after the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our tourism industry represents the essence of what sets New York apart from the rest. New York can’t come back from this pandemic unless our tourism industry and its workers come back,” Governor Hochul said. “Our nation-leading $450 million recovery package not only helps tourism industry workers get back on their feet, but will also help small businesses and venues reopen their doors. Our message to the world is clear: New York is coming back and we welcome you with open arms.”

The economic impact of COVID-19 on New York State’s tourism economy has been severe; in 2019, this industry supported one out of 10 jobs and generated more than $100 billion in economic impact. Last year, international visitation was down 86% from 2019, and domestic visitation fell by 37%, generating a nearly 55% loss in direct spending and an almost 50% drop in economic impact.

In response, Governor Hochul today announced a comprehensive strategy to support unemployed workers and struggling businesses in the critically important tourism and hospitality sector, which was New York’s third-largest industry prior to the pandemic; to incentivize the rehiring of these critical workers; and to jumpstart demand for the State’s tourism and hospitality attractions.

$100 Million Tourism Worker Recovery Fund

The first part of this package supports New Yorkers in the most impacted tourism and hospitality industry sectors who were on extended federal unemployment insurance the last week before those benefits ended and have yet to see their earnings fully recover. The New York State Department of Labor will issue one-time payments of $2,750 to as many as 36,000 qualified workers in tourism sector industries. New Yorkers who are eligible will be contacted directly via text or email.

$100 Million Tourism Return-to-Work Grant Program

The second piece of this package is designed to encourage tourism businesses that suffered job and revenue losses to rehire workers, while providing financial relief. Qualifying tourism businesses 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 to offset their labor costs. To receive full benefit, employers will have to maintain employment increases over six months. Employment increases will be based on total employment rather than specific individual employees, and businesses that can demonstrate the greatest workforce losses resulting from COVID-19 will be a priority. More information, including a sign-up for program-related email alerts, is available here.

$25 Million Meet in New York Grant Program

This program focuses on venues and events to generate and support new business-focused travel. This holistic approach to visitation recognizes the spending habits of business and convention travelers for overnight stays, food and activities. The Meet in New York program will provide grants to help convention centers and conference spaces bring more events, traveler spending and jobs back to New York State. Qualifying venues and their partnering event hotels can offer meeting organizers discounts on booking fees or room blocks to entice business, with grants reimbursing a portion of such discounts. More information on qualifying businesses and events can be found here.

$25 Million I LOVE NY Global Marketing Campaign

This consumer-facing global tourism promotion campaign extends a new invitation to domestic and international visitors, allowing I LOVE NY to expand its current marketing efforts into additional domestic and international markets. The campaign will include broadcast and digital elements that promote New York State as the world’s premier travel destination, where visitors are encouraged to come be a part of it and find what they love.

$200 Million Program for Businesses Started Just Prior to or During the Pandemic

To further New York State’s commitment to small businesses, Governor Hochul announced plans to introduce legislation in January 2022 at the start of New York State’s legislative session to create a $200 million program designed to support businesses started just prior to or during the pandemic. This forward-looking initiative would utilize existing funding in the state’s $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program to support younger businesses that were otherwise ineligible for relief through existing state and federal programs to ensure greater inclusivity among small and micro-businesses.

The Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program has been extremely successful thus far, with over $325 million awarded to support nearly 20,000 small and micro-businesses across New York State. More than 19,000 awardees were businesses with ten or fewer employees, 83% of grantees were minority and women-owned business enterprises, and the average grant funded has been nearly $17,000. This legislation will represent an expansion of the program to include small and micro-businesses that were previously ineligible for pandemic relief through the state and federal programs.

“As the tourism industry welcomes back international travelers today or the first time in 20-plus months, the industry is overwhelmed by Governor Hochul’s announcement regarding the state’s financial support of the its third-largest industry, tourism,” said New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association’s President, Mark Dorr. “From dedicated funding incentives for hotels bringing back workers, to grants that allow meeting planners to offer convention business discounts, it is all much needed support for an industry that was decimated by the pandemic,” New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association President Mark Dorr said.