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Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

What Recession? Tourists Swarm Big Apple

In Economy, Uncategorized on November 25, 2008 at 12:15 am

Is it possible that the much ballyhooed recession has yet to arrive?

Travel industry insiders report “unprecedented” numbers of Americans flocking to New York City for the long  holiday weekend.  Bookings for large groups [of 20 or more] are reported to have reached numbers tripling the previous high set during the Shriners’ 75th Anniversary celebration in 1997.  Hotels from Harlem to the Financial District are sold out, and tent cities have reportedly sprung up in city parks and even vacant lots.

Crowd gathers before tour of financial district.

Crowd gathers before tour of financial district.

Many are apparently bargain hunters taking advantage not only of New York’s diverse marketplace but also the multitude of retailers discounting everything from sporting goods to plumbing supplies in order to get an early jump on their holiday shopping.  “We were expecting a slowdown,” said Liam Toomey, manager of The Home Depot on West 23rd Street. “Not only did we not get one, but I’m predicting record numbers for this location.”  A variety of items from many areas of the store are flying off the shelves faster than workers can re-stock them — items as diverse as crowbars, chain saws, plumbing pipe, shovels, hatchets, butcher’s utensils, rags, glass bottles and jars, flashlights and “every flammable liquid we carry,” according to Mr. Toomey, “and Sterno — lots and lots of Sterno.”

His sentiments were echoed by Richard Polyn of The Sports Authority.  “We’ve had to send to other areas for many popular items,” he said. “Most of our city locations are totally out of things like baseball bats, hockey sticks, helmets of every kind, and various camping supplies — especially lanterns, fire wood, and tent spikes and mallets.  I don’t recall ever seeing so many people buying tent spikes without buying tents.  I guess it’s something a lot of campers forget to pack.  There’s also not a slingshot, golf club, or bow and arrow to be had.”

And many tourists plan to do some sightseeing as well.  Mary Travers, head of the City Tourism Board, reported that the Board’s offices have literally been flooded with calls in recent days by tourists seeking travel directions to places like the stock exchanges and even various corporate headquarters.

City Hall spokesperson Eileen O’Sullivan said the Mayor and other city officials “couldn’t be happier to see such renewed interest by so many of our friends from around the country in coming back to New York.  This will be our biggest weekend since before the September 11 attacks, and with all the jobs being lost here, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.”  Ms. O’Sullivan added that she is “extremely disappointed” that she won’t be around to “share the love that always seems to shine through at times like this,” but added that many friends and family from other parts of the country “literally were pleading with me to get out of town for the weekend.”

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