Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, usually the biggest day of the year for New York City bars. This blog post documents how much devastation the New York City tourism industry has endured in just the last 17 days. Most of us are independent professionals. This is our only line of work. We are mostly not employees but contractors. Tourist guides depend on our customers’ air travel and on tourist venues, all of which are drying up. This comes at the end of our traditional off season of winter, when we make virtually no money at all but prepare for groups coming in for the season. The season should start on the first of April.
Today is March 17, St Patrick’s Day. As of March 16, every bar in New York City is closed. Here’s how it all came down:
Tour guides spoke of their gig work scheduled for this year:
“Solid so far.”
“I’m heavily booked.”
“Never stops, but sometimes slows at [a boat ride company].”
“A lot better than the disaster that was Winter.”
“My bookings seem to be coming with less notice.
I recall January being the booking month.”
“We’ve got hundreds of student tours booked and no cancellations so far but we are bracing for the worst scenario.”
“I just hope the coronavirus would be contained.”
GANYC, the Guides Association of New York City, holds its annual celebration of New York and New Yorkers, The Apple Awards.
A cruise company going up and down the northern Pacific coast is looking for tour guides.
A double decker bus parked in its Brooklyn lot caught fire.
BuzzFeed posts this photo essay on worldwide tourism losses over the past week due to COVID https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gabrielsanchez/photos-impact-coronavirus-travel-health-virus-tourism-world?origin=web-hf
Skift posts article saying that 90% of American travelers have not postponed trips so far.
First COVID patient in New York State is in New Rochelle, just northeast of the city. Governor Cuomo instituted a partial quarantine.
An independent guide said that she had $3,500 worth of touring cancelled over the past two days. Another guide replied that she also had just had a cancellation worth $3,000.
European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations statement on worldwide tourism losses from COVID so far: https://www.feg-touristguides.com/post.php?i=feg-statement-on-covid-19-virus
11 COVID cases in New York state.
The Gap closes New York City office after one worker tests positive. (What if they’d closed a week earlier?)
The Guides Association of New York City, GANYC, creates a Google doc for the entire New York City tourism industry. Companies and independent professionals can log their monetary losses, dates and numbers of cancellations, and number of potential customer totals lost. (Addendum: this would later run to over 15 million Dollars.)
US Travel Association video urges Americans to keep traveling and to keep safe and healthy. https://www.ustravel.org/fci/friday-check-march-6-2020
33 cases of COVID in New York State.
NYC & Co creates a survey for tourism, hospitality and travel companies to detail losses so far.
New York University switches to remote classes.
Columbia University closed next Monday and Tuesday.
Port Authority top executive and husband of Elizabeth Smith (see below) Rick Cotton tests positive.
Elizabeth Smith, head of the Central Park Conservancy, tests positive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo press conference announces New York State hand sanitizer, made right here in NYS.
Most Broadway shows will offer tickets for $50.
The United Nations closes to the public.
New York City Half Marathon, another source of tourism income, is canceled.
Hilton Midtown now has rooms for $82 per night. (Addendum: it closed in October 2020.)
New York City tourguides lament and share photos of empty Liberty Island, empty boat cruises, empty Metropolitan Museum, etc.
Vox.com published its soon-to-be-a-classic ‘flattening the curve’ graph.
Cable TV station NY1 report details hits to the tourism industry so far https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/03/11/city-tourism-dips-due-to-coronavirus-spread
The new Hudson Yards observation deck Edge debuts, opening at 8 am. A staffer at 1 p.m. says they are sold out.
World Health Organization announces COVID a pandemic.
National Basketball Association suspends the season.
Broadway League curtails the practice of granting stage door and backstage passes.
Governor Cuomo announces 212 COVID cases in NYS, up from a single one just eight days earlier. Charges that the federal government should “at least get out of the way. The horse is out of the barn.”
Cuomo and Ancient Order of Hibernians officials announce that the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which has marched every year since the 1750s, is postponed.
President Trump bans air travel from most European countries. The UK and Ireland are exempted.
Mayor de Blasio declares a state of emergency in New York City.
Chelsea Piers, a sports complex, closes.
Broadway theaters close. This means around 40,000 fewer potential clients daily.
Fred Dixon of NYC & Company posts a COVID resource page, with links to business groups, business travel groups, convention groups, and events groups. This list is updated daily. Good work! https://business.nycgo.com/coronavirus-information-and-resources/
TV talk shows made in New York City will not have studio audiences for the time being.
The Metropolitan Museum closes all three branches: Fifth Avenue, The Cloisters and The Breuer.
The Metropolitan Opera cancels everything until March 31.
Carnegie Hall suspends visits and concerts.
New York City Small Business Services releases a form for small businesses to detail how they have been affected by COVID.
Edge, at Hudson yards, closes.
Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn closes to living people, until April 15th, tax day.
Mayor de Blasio says schools will remain open, despite calls from all sides to close them now.
March Madness basketball tournament is postponed.
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group closes all 19 restaurants.
Statue Cruises is to go on a 4-boat schedule.
A major double-decker tourist bus company in New York lays off most guides.
Mayor de Blasio on radio reiterates schools will remain open.
Trump extends travel ban to UK and Ireland, as well as most of Europe.
One World Observatory closes.
City Council speaker Corey Johnson demands that schools, restaurants, bars and all non-essential businesses close now.
The other large double decker bus company laid off most of its guides.
NYC schools, bars and restaurants will close.
Central Park Zoo has closed.
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IS CLOSED
THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING IS CLOSED
Circle Line and Water Taxi cruises are closed.
High Line Park has closed.
Big Bus and Gray Line have stopped all tour buses.
We guides renew our licenses with the Department of Consumer Affairs, which is closed. Online only, but their system sucks.
A Wall Street journal article about the Fed response to these and other losses quotes guide and GANYC officer Michael Morgenthal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-takes-emergency-steps-as-virus-pushes-economy-toward-recession-11584310776
The Met Gala has been postponed.
Centers for Disease Control recommends no groups of 50 or larger. That means no more 50 to 55 passenger coaches.
A subdued, ‘guerilla’ parade of Ancient Order of Hibernians members marched, staying apart from one another, quietly in the rain this morning at 6 a.m. on 5th Avenue. This keeps the parade tradition unbroken after all.
All the bars are closed on what would have been the busiest day of the year. But happy Saint Patrick’s Day, anyway, to you and yours.
When it becomes safe to travel again, PLEASE HIRE ME! I’m an 18-year member of GANYC and a graduate of its certification program.
Tourguidestan@yahoo.com or http://www.isleofnewyorktours.com