NEW YORK -- From hotels to tours to Broadway, the $25 billion
tourism industry here is suffering from a sharp drop in business
following the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The city's hotels, which had been hoping for a rebound after a
drop in business travel, are grappling with some of the lowest
occupancies in history.
John Fox, senior vice president of PKF Consulting's hospitality
practice, said the big question concerns the long term -- whether
there will be a fundamental change in traveler attitudes.
A widespread fear of flying might prove temporary, but if people
stay home because they don't want to deal with airport security,
the impact might be lasting, Fox predicted.
In addition to coping with reduced demand, Marriott and Hilton
were directly impacted by the loss of hotels in the financial
Marriott said it had 940 guests registered at its World Trade
Center hotel and 620 at the Financial Center hotel at the time of
The company moved its displaced guests into eight hotels in the
city and is issuing refunds for unused portions of prepaid
bookings. It also waived cancelation and no-show fees worldwide
until Sept. 26.
Hilton said guests displaced from the Hilton Millenium and the
Embassy Suites Battery Park were moved into its other four hotels
in the city. Hilton waived cancellation and no-show fees
companywide for individual travelers through Sept. 30. It waived
cancellation fees on events and groups through Oct. 31.
Other hotels are coping with empty rooms by dropping rates and
hoping for the best. One hotelier said as many as half of the
city's 30,000 hotel workers could lose their jobs.
At New York-based Quikbook.com, the online hotel reservations firm, New
York business dropped by half.
To boost bookings, just about all of Quikbook's 100 New York
hotels have dropped their prices by at least 50%.
The Parker Meridien, for example, dropped its rates from $289 a
night to $179, while prices at the Bentley, the Marcel and the
Ameritania fell to $95 from more than $200.
At the city's five Apple Core hotels, occupancy fell from more
than 80% to as low as 40%, said Vijay Dandapani, chief operating
With the influx of relief workers, "the guest mix also has
changed completely.... In terms of tourists, only 30% of our guests
are real tourists," Dandapani reported. Apple Core also dropped its
daily room rates by 33%.
The city's convention business also is suffering. The U.N.
postponed its annual General Assembly, scheduled for Sept. 24 to
Oct. 5, citing security considerations.
George Kurth, director of reservations for Manhattan East Suite
Hotels, said the U.N.'s decision will cost the hotel company "more
than $1.5 million" in canceled bookings.
"We were expecting 95% occupancies through the end of October at
our 10 hotels," said Kurth. "Right now we're down in the 40s."
Tour and sightseeing firms, meanwhile, are reporting some
"It's almost as if someone pressed a button," said Joel Cohen,
vice president of New York City Vacation Packages. "We started
getting phone calls asking for availability. It's a very good sign.
It's the first time in a week and a day that we are starting to get
a substantial number of inquiries."
Robin Tauck, co-president of Tauck World Discovery, said the
company hasn't had to curtail any itineraries, and hasn't seen a
rash of cancellations.
As for New York's resilience, she said, "We were about to put an
independent city package on the market for 2002, short city tours
in Tauck style. We had to decide whether to put these on the
market. We decided to go ahead."
Mike Alvich, vice president of sales and marketing of Gray Line
New York said, "We're getting calls from Nevada saying, 'We can't
get there this week, but we're going to come the next week. We're
not going to let you down.'"
Alvich said Gray Line's numbers are down, but "are growing every
It might, however, be too late to save some Broadway shows, five
of which were expected to close last weekend as a result of lost
business: "The Rocky Horror Show," "Stones in His Pockets," "A
Thousand Clowns," "If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Going With You" and
"Kiss Me, Kate."
Business at Theater Direct International is down 50% since the
attacks, and bookings at its Broadway.com Web site are a mere 20% of normal.
But Maupintour president Heinz Niederhoff predicted that New York's
woes will be temporary.
"New York will always be a magnet. If anything, this has pushed
it more into the forefront. People from all over the world will
say, 'I want to see New York. I want to see what it's about, to see
the people.' In the long run, New York will be the winner."
David Cogswell contributed to this report.