Friday, May 11, 2018

Can Southeast Queens Residents Capitalize On The Strong Growth In The Queens Tourism Economy

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New Report Details Tourism’s Strong Impact on The Queens Economy

Report by Center for an Urban Future, Association for a Better New York, Times Square Alliance.  Comments by Kamau Austin

Photo By Kamau Austin
New York City is experiencing a significant growth in the tourism sector.  New York City has 62.7 million visitors a year who spend over 43 billion dollars in annual spending as of 2016.

A lot of growth of tourism is happening in Queens.  Tourism is sprouting a lot of job growth and economic development in Queens.  But the question remains since JFK Airport is in Southeast Queens and the area is rich in internationally popular artforms like jazz, hip hop, gospel, and the arts will our area reap similar economic rewards for it's residents like Manhattan, Northern Queens, and Brooklyn?

Below is research by the Center for an Urban Future, Association for a Better New York, Times Square Alliance on the significant growth of the tourism trade on the economy in Queens with the very provocative videos on the subject... 

Nearly 15,000 Queens Residents Work at Hotels in NYC, More Than Any Other Borough

Tourists Are Responsible for 6% of All Retail Spending in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst
(May 7, 2018) A new report published by the Center for an Urban Future finds that the record increase in tourism to New York City over the past two decades has spurred thousands of jobs in Queens and benefited thousands of additional residents who work in tourism jobs elsewhere in the city. The report reveals that 14,750 Queens residents work at hotels across the city, significantly more than any other borough.

Meanwhile, the borough is now home to 3,272 accommodations jobs, up from 2,396 in 2000— an increase of 876 jobs, or 37 percent.  The report, which was funded by the Association for a Better New York and Times Square Alliance, finds that the tourism boom has led to exponential job growth at the city’s cultural attractions, restaurants and bars, and retail shops.

In Queens, the number of people working at restaurants and bars increased 88 percent increase to 45,276 jobs in 2016 from 24,033 jobs in 2000. Queens has also seen a 46 percent increase in jobs at museums, parks and historical sites, from 599 in 2000 to 875 in 2016. In retail, Queens added 12,863 jobs (a 25 percent increase) since 2000.

The study also reveals that the benefits of tourism have spread to many neighborhoods across the borough. For instance, in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, tourists are responsible for 12 percent of all spending in electronics stores and 10 percent of spending in discount stores. They are responsible for 6 percent of all retail spending in those neighborhoods, totaling more than $23 million annually.

While a growing number of tourists are visiting Queens, the report also shows that the tourism boom is also benefiting locals who work elsewhere in the city. For instance, Queens is home to more hotel workers than any other borough, an important distinction when the average worker in the accommodations sector earns $62,000 per year. Eighty-one percent of NYC residents who are employed at hotels live in the four boroughs outside Manhattan. There are 14,750 Queens residents working in the accommodations sector, significantly more than any other borough, including Brooklyn (which is home to 10,986 hotel workers), Manhattan (8,324), the Bronx (6,881), and Staten Island (1,819).

See Lonely Planet Votes Queens, NY Best Destination For Travel In US For 2015 Video

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Checkout The NY Times Video On Queens Tourism

The report provides the first comprehensive analysis of how NYC’s tourism boom over the past two decades has impacted the economy. The number of tourists visiting NYC has increased from 33 million a year in the late 1990s to 62.7 million in 2017. According to the report, this 90 percent increase in annual tourists has spurred hundreds of thousands of jobs and elevated tourism into one of the four key drivers of NYC’s economy.
NYC Tourism has grown from 33 million a year in the 1990s to Actually 62.7 Million in 2017.

The study reveals that there are now more direct jobs in tourism (291,084) than in
finance (268,200) and nearly twice as many jobs as in the city’s tech sector (128,600). It also shows that tourism has become an increasingly vital source of middle-income jobs in NYC.

However, the study also concludes that NYC’s tourism sector faces several new and evolving challenges that could cause tourism to slip and jobs to decline—from the strengthening dollar and growing negative perceptions of the U.S. to capacity problems at the city’s airports. And it finds that New York has never adequately planned for a city with 60 million tourists a year, or made sufficient investments in its tourism infrastructure to sustain this many annual visitors.

Among other key findings of the report: Tourism has sparked much of the recent job growth in NYC’s key industries.  Tourists are responsible for 24 percent of all sales at NYC restaurants and drinking places, according to our analysis of Visa credit card transactions. 

This suggests that tourists have spurred much of the job growth at restaurants over the past two decades. The city has added 142,000 jobs at “restaurants and drinking places” since 2000.

Tourists account for 18 percent of all Visa transactions at retail stores in the city.

They account for an even higher share of sales at the department stores (48 percent), electronic stores (35 percent), and sporting goods stores (23 percent). International tourists alone account for 29 percent of all Visa transactions at the city’s jewelry stores.

The retail sector has experienced a net gain of 71,000 jobs since 2000, and much of this is due to tourists

In recent years, tourists have given local retailers a key source of revenue at a time when many brick-and-mortar storefronts are losing business to online purchases.  The number of workers in the city employed by tour vans, double-decker buses, tourist boats, and other
forms of sightseeing transport nearly doubled over the past 15 years. Incredibly, NYC accounted for 47 percent of the nation’s net job gains in this sector.

The enormous increase in tourists over the past couple of decades has even begun to spur growth in the city’s tech sector. The study identifies more than two dozen venture-backed travel-tech start-ups based in the city, 16 of which had been founded just in the last five years.

Tourism is a key source of middle class jobs that are accessible to a diverse mix of New Yorkers

The average hotel job in NYC pays $61,756, even more than a position in manufacturing ($57,807)—and the city has added more than 12,000 hotel jobs since 2000. There are now 51,000 hotel jobs citywide making it one of the biggest sources of new middle class jobs.

More than 65 percent of NYC residents who work in tourism-related industries are people of color and 54 percent are immigrants, compared to 59 percent and 44 percent, respectively, of workers in other sectors.

The full report, titled Destination New York, is here:

About Center for an Urban Future

The Center for an Urban Future is a leading NYC-based think tank that publishes studies focused on growing the economy and expanding economic opportunity in NYC. For more info, visit:

About Association for a Better New York

Association for a Better New York is a nearly 50-year-old civic advocacy organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those that live and work in NYC and for those who visit. We work with the city, the state, and the federal government, as well as with our business and civic members, to achieve positive results for all of New York’s communities.

About Times Square Alliance

Times Square Alliance, founded in 1992, works to improve and promote Times Square—cultivating the creativity, energy, and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture, and urban life for over a century.

For more information, contact Hayley Kaplan at 212.479.3351 or

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