NYC tourism industry faces unknown economic loss during shutdown

government shutdown new york city tourism
New York City’s tourism industry faces unknown economic losses during the government shutdown, with the Statue of Liberty and other federal attractions closed for business.
Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

New York City’s tourism industry faces unknown economic losses during the government shutdown, with the Statue of Liberty and other federal attractions closed for business.

“Less people, less sales, less interaction,” said George Hill, 59, who peddles T-shirts and hats in Lower Manhattan, where many tourists normally take ferries to Liberty Island.

The National Park Service said some 15,000 people who visit the statue every day will have their reservations cancelled as Congress remains gridlocked. Ellis Island, Federal Hall, Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace and the National Museum of the American Indian are also closed.

City, state and federal officials could not estimate how much the city will lose each day during the shutdown, but less foot traffic has vendors like Hill worried.

“If there is no government, there’s no me,” Hill said. “My business is based on the tourism, and the tourists are not coming.”

Before the statue closed following Superstorm Sandy, its visitors contributed $174 million to the New York area economy in 2011, supporting more than 2,200 jobs.

Nationwide, the shutdown will cost the Parks Service an estimated $450,000 per day in lost revenue.

Still, the city’s marketing, tourism and partnership organization isn’t concerned, noting other attractions in the five boroughs.

“Any closure of our national parks would be disappointing to some travelers, but we do not foresee it creating a major impact on New York City tourism,” NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta said in a statement.

But a few companies, like Skyline Sightseeing, offer packages with the statue included.

“That brings in a lot of our customers — knowing that they will get to see the Statue of Liberty for free,” said Heriberto Rodriguez, a 23-year-old passing out fliers for the bus tour company.

A shopkeeper named Infinity, who sells keychains and American flags near the Charging Bull, said on Tuesday afternoon that Wall Street was quieter than normal.

“There is a big difference. I usually have a lot of tourists coming around to go to the Liberty Island,” said the 58-year-old. “Usually there are so many.”

Though some tourists were more flexible, Svetlozar Nikolaev said he and his girlfriend travelled nearly 10,000 miles to see the Statue of Liberty.

“We are probably just going to the Time Square,” the 23-year-old Bulgarian said.

Maja Lundager contributed reporting. Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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