NYC Hotels See Busiest Week Since Pandemic Hit, Mayor Says

New York City has seen demand for hotel rooms rise to the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, yet industry analysts say the tough times are far from over for a city that was once the nation’s most-popular tourist destination.

City hotels sold more than 481,000 room nights last week, a 17,000 increase from the previous week, pushing the city toward exceeding a weekly goal of 500,000, de Blasio said Thursday.

The city has embarked on a $30 million marketing campaign intended to increase tourism, which at its height created about 400,000 jobs and injected about $72 billion into the city economy, including $7 billion of tax revenue. De Blasio said visits to the Statue of Liberty were up 22% last week compared with the last week in June.

“We need to see our economy coming back, our jobs coming back,” de Blasio said during a Thursday news briefing, when he spent much of the time promoting musical concerts intended to draw visitors. “The cultural and artistic activities, the museums that are open, indoor and outdoor activities, sports is back, restaurants, especially outdoor dining.”

Yet the city’s hotel industry remains depressed, with nearly 100 closed for tourism, said Anne Purcell, director of hospitality and market analytics for the northeast at CoStar, a real estate data analytics company. While the occupancy rate was 63% in June for hotels that are open, it was about 50% for the city’s hotel room inventory. The average occupancy rate was about 90% in the summers of 2018 and 2019, Purcell said.

New York City hotels will see increased demand coming “drip by drip rather than in a big jump, and then we will see a downturn after Labor Day when leisure travel decreases with no business travel replacing it, as it traditionally would,” said Jan Freitag, CoStar’s national director of hospitality analytics.

The city’s hotel industry faces other vexing challenges in filling its inventory, including the creation of about a dozen new hotels at a time when scores of existing ones will be reopening and struggling to attract visitors and staff, Freitag said.

“It won’t be easy to fill all those rooms, and we may see some hotels close a percentage of their rooms, not because of low demand but because of lack of housekeepers,” he said.

At the Museum of Modern Art, weekly attendance more than doubled from May 1 to July 2, to 30,930 from 13,327, according to spokeswoman Meg Montgoris. But that’s still below the 51,000-visit average of a comparable period in 2019. Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art increased to 50,867 last week from 30,792 in the first week of May, said spokesman Kenneth Weine. While that’s a 65% attendance increase over the past 11 weeks, it’s still less than half attracted to the museum in mid-July 2019.

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