As the NYPD deploys more police officers to Times Square and the subway system’s busiest stations in hopes of reassuring the public of their safety, New York City’s reopening means more than just locals need reassuring.
Especially as the city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is vital to the city’s economy: in 2019, visitors spend $67 billion here. And visits are picking up steam as the weather improves and vaccinations increase — along with easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Monday, 130,000 people visited Times Square. That’s up from the previous Monday, at 113,000, even after a shooting that injured three bystanders.
The once-deserted steps outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art are filling up with visitors again. Hotel lobbies are losing their desolate feel. Downtown, people are back to taking selfies with the Charging Bull statue near Wall Street.
There’s still a long way to go before the still-closed theater district is mobbed with international travelers again.
But lately, indicators like hotel occupancy and museum attendance have ticked up, thanks to domestic travelers and day trippers who don’t mind seeing the city operating at less than its usual hectic pace.
City officials are optimistic, even in the wake of the incident in Times Square on Saturday, and a Sunday attack on a tourist aboard a No. 2 train. NYPD officers will flood the city’s 20 busiest subway stations, in addition to an increase in patrols above ground.
“In the end, people want to come to this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. “It is an overwhelmingly safe city, when you look at New York City compared to cities around the country, around the world.”