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President's Message: Stay The Course, It's In Our Best Interest

Jul 8, 2020

We are all dealing with a surplus of COVID-19 news, webinars and information and I hesitate to add even more to it. I will, however, briefly editorialize on the importance to all of New York's destinations that we stay the course of reopening prudently, with the health and safety of our residents and travelers being our top priority.

New York State was the first destination to become a hot spot and the hard work, inconvenience, sacrifice and yes, suffering that we all shared over the past four months should not be forgotten. We cannot deny the outcomes being realized around the country in markets where reopening was launched precipitously and irresponsibly. (See today's NY Times Newsletter) Difficult and controversial decisions (e.g. quarantines) are being made to preserve public health in New York State. I believe that for the most part, they are in the best interests of not only our residents, but the long term prospects of our tourism industry. New York has demonstrated steady progress in travel spending since reopening began on May 15 and as yet has had no repercussions, no surges in infection rates or mortality. We haven't identified any indications that suggest that New York will have to 'step back.'

As I indicated in our last newsletter, our major challenge now is communicating to travelers that New York is positioned to provide them with travel destinations that will address their concerns for safety while providing the memorable experiences they are (desperately) seeking. News of outbreaks in other states that have failed to take adequate precautions is undermining consumer confidence in travel. It is vital that our New York State leadership recognizes that releasing the budgeted I Love NY (matching) funds will generate the travel spending growth that will restore needed revenues to state and local government. New York has suffered a $21.6 billion (-78%) YOY decline in travel spending since March 1st. It has financially devastated hotels, restaurants, museums and Main Street retailers alike, and it has cost state and local governments over $1.4 billion in tax revenues. Releasing the approximately $4 million in NYS Matching Funds for tourism for responsible marketing outreach will undoubtedly generate far more in revenue over the months to come than withholding it will save. And we can continue to realize progress on both the public and the economic health of New York State. - Bob Provost