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Rebuilding NYC's Tourism Industry

Rebuilding NYC's Tourism IndustryThe job of bringing visitors back to NYC now lies on the shoulders of Tufts graduate Jonathan Tisch - the new head of the city's tourism agency.

Boston [07.16.02] Jonathan Tisch got his start in the tourism business at an early age at his family's Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City, where he schlepped bags and suitcases for guests. After working his way to the top of the field, the Tufts graduate and Loews Hotel CEO now finds himself shouldering another heavy load - rebuilding NYC's tourism industry.

"Tourism is New York City's business," Tisch told New York's Newsday. "We're the second-largest industry in New York City. We're responsible for some 280,000 jobs."

And as the newly appointed chairman of NYC & Co. - the organization charged with promoting tourism in NYC - Tisch is responsible for rebuilding the industry, badly effected by the Sept. 11th attacks.

"The time was right, the need was there," he told Newsday of his decision to accept the invitation to head NYC & Co. "My mind was in a place where I could focus on what role I could do, how I could help rebuild New York City using the travel and tourism industry as the cornerstone of that re-growth."

Hard-hit by the attacks, the normally-booming tourism industry has experienced wide-spread losses since September. According to the newspaper, anywhere between 25,000 and 40,000 tourism-related jobs were lost.

Many of those jobs have been restored more recently, but the city still needs to attract visitors back to New York - especially international tourists.

"[Tisch said] long-distance and foreign travelers - who spend six times more than domestic travelers - are lagging," reported Newsday. "More costly national and international advertising, done routinely by cities such as Las Vegas, could help, he said."

To do that, Tisch says his first goal at NYC & Co. will be to expand the organization's budget. The Tufts graduate may be the best person in the city to make that happen.

"There's nobody locally that Jon doesn't know," former NYC & Co. chairman Tim Zagat told the newspaper. "He's also extremely well connected and experienced on a national and international level."

Those connections may prove particularly important as Tisch attempts to achieve his second goal - the expansion of New York's convention center.

"Right now, it doesn't even rank among the 10 largest exhibit halls in the nation," reported Newsday. "The hope is that a bigger hall will attract bigger conventions, thereby filling city hotels, restaurants and shops."

For years, the project has been delayed by political wrangling among city, state and community leaders. But Tisch is expected to succeed at resolving the remaining issues, where others have not.

"Tisch, [said deputy mayor Daniel Doctoroff] is 'absolutely critical' in helping to bring business and government interest into agreement," reported Newsday.

The public's changing perception of the impact tourism has on New York City may also help, Tisch told the newspaper.

"[Before], New Yorkers had the attitude that if you don't come to New York, you're too dumb to be worth having," he told Newsday. "In an ironic way, 9/11 woke up a lot of people to the importance of tourism because of the substantial drop-off."

 

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