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Niagara Falls (File photo)
Niagara Falls (File photo)

Hochul announces $450 million 'Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs' inclusive recovery package


Mon, Nov 8th 2021 05:30 pm

Announcement coincides with reopening of international borders

√ $100 million in one-time payments to support hardest-hit tourism workers

√ $100 million in grants to encourage tourism employers to rehire staff

√ $25 million to attract convention center and hotel events; additional $25 million for global and domestic marketing efforts

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced a comprehensive $450 million "Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs" inclusive recovery package to support New York's hardest-hit tourism sector workers, revitalize the state's tourism industry, and support businesses started just prior to or during the pandemic. Her news coincided with the reopening of international borders.

Hochul made the announcement at the Museum of Natural History, joined by representatives from “I LOVE NY,” “NY Forever,” tourism and business groups, as well as labor groups representing workers in the tourism industry. Her team said this package of programs represents a multifaceted approach to revitalizing the industry through assistance for workers, investments in small businesses, and consumer-focused marketing around the nation and the world.

"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," 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, Hochul announced a strategy to support unemployed workers and struggling businesses in the 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.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said, "Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, New York is a model for getting much-needed relief money out the door into the hands of working Americans. New York's forward-looking approach will bring back good-paying, middle-class jobs, and it will bring back an industry that is critical to reopening our economy."

$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.

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 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 Pandemic

To further New York's commitment to small businesses, Hochul announced plans to introduce legislation in January 2022 at the start of the state's legislative session to create a $200 million program designed to support businesses started just prior to or during the pandemic. This 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.

Hochul’s team said, “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 10 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.”

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "The tourism industry is not only a critical economic driver in New York state, but it is one of the things that makes New York such a great place to visit. I applaud Gov. Hochul for recognizing the hardship this pandemic has had our tourism industry. This comprehensive initiative is crucial to reviving our tourism industry and assisting the workers who have been directly impacted by this public health crisis."

Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, "Tourism is a key part of New York state's diverse economy. It supports jobs and businesses across an array of industries by allowing us to share all the incredible attractions, events and experience we have to offer with visitors from around the globe. The return of tourism is vital to the growth and sustainability of our economic future, and these new initiatives will help us revitalize this struggling industry."

Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "When New York state partners with the tourism industry, it's an unstoppable combination. This holistic effort announced today by Gov. Hochul will help spur visitation of all kinds, from international travelers looking for an unforgettable vacation to business people attending important industry events. The programs will also help support the state's unparalleled tourism industry so that it can deliver world-class customer service and an incomparable guest experience."

New York State Council on the Arts Executive Director Mara Manus said, "NYSCA applauds Gov. Hochul's commitment to reinvigorate international tourism to New York – our extraordinary arts and culture organizations, institutions and spaces of every description are open and ready to welcome the world once again. The return of cultural tourism will power New York's unparalleled arts and culture sector as it rebuilds capacity, safely begins a multiyear recovery process, and strengthens our economy. When the arts thrive – New York soars!" 

President of the NY Hotel Trades Council Rich Maroko said, "When NY shutdown in March 2020 due to COVID, no one could imagine that nearly two years later we'd still have thousands of tourism industry workers struggling with unemployment and now the loss of federal benefits. Thanks to Gov. Hochul and the hundreds of millions of dollars the state will be providing to rehire workers and reopen the tourism industry, these workers finally have something to be hopeful for this holiday season. This plan will ease the financial suffering of tens of thousands of unemployed New Yorkers while creating a path back to active employment and growth for the tourism industry."

New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association President Mark Dorr said, "As the tourism industry welcomes back international travelers today for the first time in 20-plus months, the industry is overwhelmed by Gov. Hochul's announcement regarding the state's financial support of its third-largest industry, tourism. 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. We applaud Gov. Hochul for her vision as we continue to rebuild the world's best tourism destinations."

President and CEO of the New York State Tourism Industry Association Robert Provost said, "Gov. Hochul is addressing the needs of the moment while incentivizing future success. This package will stimulate the return of group and international travel while supporting small business survival and those still struggling with job loss. It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive and strategic plan of support, and we owe Gov. Hochul a thank you for her foresight and vision."

Destination Niagara USA President/CEO John Percy said, “We join our fellow colleagues from across New York state in adding our applause to the governor for the commitment to support the recovery of the tourism industry. This large infusion of resources and dollars will help expedite and speed up a recovery to an industry so badly impacted these past 20 months. Niagara Falls USA will look forward to exploring how our local industry, especially the meetings industry, can benefit from this newly formed stimulus.”

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