November 8, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Major $450 Million "Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs" Inclusive Recovery Package

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Major $450 Million "Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs" Inclusive Recovery Package

Announcement Coincides with Reopening of International Borders

$100 Million in One-Time Payments to Support Hardest-Hit Tourism Workers

$100 Million in Grants to Encourage Tourism Employers to Rehire Staff

$25 Million to Attract Convention Center and Hotel Events; Additional $25 Million for Global and Domestic Marketing Efforts

Commitment to Advance Legislation Expanding Successful Small Business Recovery Program for Businesses Started Just Prior to or During the Pandemic with $200 Million Relief Program

Governor Hochul: "The only way we're going to say that New York is truly back is when the tourism industry is back as well. I believe they are interconnected - our success as a state and the success of this industry."

Hochul: "We bring back tourism, we bring back jobs - and that's why today I'm very proud to announce a $450 million investment in our tourism workers and our businesses.  First in the nation - we're doing it right here in the State of New York, first in the nation to make that level of investment in our people and in our industries."

Hochul: "This is where you come, plan your vacation, plan your convention, plan your first in-person meeting that you may not have had for 20 months. The smartest people are going to take their friends, their allies, their business workers, coworkers, industry partners and they will want to bring them to the safest place they can. People are smart here in New York. We've worked awfully hard to drive down those numbers and we will be among the first in the nation to declare the end of this pandemic."

Earlier today at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a comprehensive $450 million "Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs" inclusive recovery package to support New York State's hardest-hit tourism sector workers, revitalize the state's tourism industry, and support businesses started just prior to or during the pandemic. Today's announcement coincided with the reopening of international borders. 

At the Museum of Natural History, the Governor was joined by representatives from I LOVE NY, NY Forever, tourism and business groups, as well as labor groups representing workers in the tourism industry. This package of programs represents a multi-faceted approach to revitalizing the industry through assistance for workers, investments in small businesses, and consumer-focused marketing around the nation and the world.  

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here

AUDIO of the event is available here.   

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:

Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Ellen, first of all, to you, for embodying that New York spirit that you spoke of so eloquently, the fact that you had to adapt this whole institution to the pandemic and make sure that your employees were safe and to have a vaccination site - I know you've had over 50,000 vaccines administered right here and now you're welcoming the children in a place that they trust and they know.

So Ellen, you are one of those extraordinary New Yorkers that we talk about. Let's give a round of applause to Ellen Futter, the president of Museum of Natural History. 

I also want to acknowledge a number of the elected officials who are here as well. I know they were recognized but I never forget my elected officials, our partners in state and local government who've joined us here today and I want to make sure that we acknowledge many of the leaders of industry and the people who are the keepers of the flame, the excitement that is New York State tourism.

And we have Rich Maroko here, the head of the Hotel and Gaming Council here. Rich Maroko, thank you.  Nancy Tavarez is here. You're going to hear from her in a couple of minutes.  Stuart Appelbaum, the president of retail, wholesale and department store workers. Thank you, Stuart, for your work. Kathy Wylde, our fantastic partner with the business community, president of Partnership for New York City.

Our senior leaders from my administration who are leading the charge to make sure that we come back from this pandemic strongly. Roberta Reardon, our DOL commissioner, Roberta Reardon. Hope Knight, our incoming Empire State Development president - congratulations, Hope. Ross Levi, executive director of director of tourism in I love New York, a creative genius here. Mara Manus, the New York State Council on the Arts president. Thank you, Mara, for all you do. And Quenia Abreu, New York Women's Chamber of Commerce president who's here as well. Cristyne Nicholas, the president of New York State Tourism Advisory Council as well. 

And I know the elected officials were acknowledged, but think we might've missed Linda Rosenthal. Are you here? Okay, we got Linda Rosenthal.

Since day one, I've had one thought as your governor. It's been a little bit short of three months. I want to make New York fun again. I want people to feel that vitality, that energy that all of us knew before the pandemic that we just embraced as part of our DNA, and we talk about tourism and I love the slogan, bring back tourism, bring back jobs, you bring back jobs, you bring back the workers in those jobs. 

Today is a major milestone. It is the day we welcome back our international travelers. So those of you've enjoyed going through the airport without a crowd, sorry, those days are over, but that's a good thing. I just had one resilient New Yorker tell me, came back from the airport and spent two hours in traffic because of the marathon, but said that was a good thing, I'm okay with that. That is so New York. We're just so happy to have traffic back again and disruptions and marathons and Broadway plays and Billy Joel's back and our sports teams are back and these wonderful cultural institutions are back as well. Upstate is back. Niagara Falls never turned off. Just wanted to tell you that. I went and saw Niagara Falls many times during the pandemic, talking about our idea of staycations up to the Adirondacks, the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, Thousand Islands, as well as the beaches of Long Island, how beautiful and charming it is and Hudson Valley. 

No one has traveled to state more than I have. I have visited everything. I am one of those people who is inspired by Chevy Chase, his movies, I went in search of the world's largest ball of twine. If you're younger you probably don't know what I'm talking about but you can look that one up.

So I've loved the adventure of being a tourist my entire life and so we have our international tourists come back, we have our Canadian tourists coming back, people in the North Country and Western New York are very excited to start seeing license plates from Ontario and Quebec. It's been too long. And, I can see Canada from my house, and I'm very excited about seeing more traffic on the bridges as we cross over. 

But this is an industry, tourism industry - how do you describe it? Everybody has their own idea of what tourism is. I believe that tourism reflects that very human quest for adventure and excitement and something that takes them out of their ordinary lives.

It also creates very human connections. Most people travel with friends or families or romantic partners, or they hope to come back with a romantic partner depending on where they go, so we know how important it is to just leave the safety of our homes and our secure environment and to push ourselves and to challenge ourselves and come to a place like this and to be so stimulated by the environment. And you're going to walk away smarter and more knowledgeable about the world around you. That's why people love this industry. 

And those of you who are the keepers of the flame and the caretakers of all the different institutions represented, and they are so diverse, from the botanical gardens and the zoos and the cultural plays and the theater and all the great things we just love going to, art galleries, just walking the streets, the upstate festivals I went to to celebrate autumn. It is so extraordinary. It's the cultural, the artistic, the entertainment experiences when we leave our homes - they really feed our souls. They leave us feeling enriched, and that's why we felt we were hungry and starving during this pandemic.

Our souls were not enriched by these experiences, and in my opinion the only way we're going to say that New York is truly back is when the tourism industry is back as well. I believe they are interconnected - our success as a state and the success of this industry.

And I'm not looking to give anybody a bad flashback, but we know New York City was the epicenter. That word itself just triggers emotion. You think about the sirens you heard every night, and sometimes you heard at seven o'clock, everybody banging the pans in appreciation, but you just wondered, when is this going to stop? When will we get some sense of normalcy? When will I stop looking down Fifth Avenue and wondering where everybody went? It's so desolate, so deserted, so unnatural.  

And not only did we have that experience but you started seeing the "closed" signs on our hotels and our restaurants and our most magnificent cultural and tourism activities and our art galleries and our small businesses - we all saw that "closed" sign and it was so disheartening. How long is this going to go on? A couple of weeks? Maybe a couple months? It went on for what seemed an eternity. And so we had to take some steps, the federal government, thank God for Joe Biden and the federal government who gave us desperately needed relief.

So on day one I was able to make sure that we had our pandemic relief out the door. It had been jammed up for two long. People needed help paying the rent so they wouldn't be afraid of being thrown out on the streets after living their whole lives at home. Excluded workers, people who work so hard but just didn't have the papers to allow them to get the same kind of benefits, we got that money out the door. We made sure that we took care of people, so no New Yorkers were falling through the cracks anymore. 

The thought was that the jobs would back, go back to the jobs, everything's good again. But as we're learning from this pandemic, that didn't happen either. Not everywhere, not in the tourism industry because we were missing the millions of people from abroad or the people who had come from other states who are just hunkering down themselves.

We lost that connection. I mean, Ellen, you're down 40 percent. That's hundreds of workers. I don't want to tell you how much revenue you're down because that's another topic, but everybody lost something. Tourism in our state when we're going well is a $117 billion industry, third largest industry in our state, hundreds of thousands of jobs associated with it, and we used to have visitors come, 265 million visitors came statewide, they spent more than $73 billion. So where does that money going to be made up? That money is lost. Just take New York City alone. We had 66.6 million visitors to New York. I swear I ran into all of them.

People spend over $47 billion on hotels and restaurants and shops and souvenirs and attractions like this. That money dried up. All of a sudden it was there. And then it wasn't literally in a matter of days, weeks, a couple of months. 

We used to have 403,000 workers in the tourism industry across the state. But then when we saw visitation dropped by 40 percent, visitor spending cut in half, I did my best, I was all over the state, I was having tours, I was upstate saying, if you ever wanted to visit New York City, the lines aren't long, Statue of Liberty hasn't gone anywhere, there is still a fairy, come on down and experience New York. 

When I was in New York City I was a reverse ambassador saying, have you seen the Finger Lakes? You've been up to the Catskills? Have you been to Thousand Islands? Have you been to Niagara Falls? You've been to North Country? So I was doing this reverse thing. 

Wherever I was, I was trying to encourage people to spend their money in the State of New York, staycations, and we did a lot of work with Empire State Development. 

So where are we today? We're not there yet. Despite what we're seeing, Broadway looking better, went to a couple of plays a couple of weeks ago, it was great. I've been to a lot of sporting events, walking into a lot of the culturals. I literally walked the streets of New York every single day just to see if anybody recognizes me. Sometimes they do. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad, depending on their attitude, it's good or bad. 

But one thing I know for sure, as someone who stays at a hotel in New York City and has been for seven years, sometimes three, four, five, six days a week, the hotels are not back. Our tourism related businesses like charter buses that used to transport people from the city across the state to Niagara Falls, they're not back.  The cleaners of the hotels. I mean, there are so many jobs that are still not back yet and we cannot be blind to this any longer. We cannot just say they'll be back tomorrow; just keep holding on. People have been holding on a long time since they lost their extended unemployment benefits back in September. I'm an optimist. They will come back, but we need them to hold on just a little bit longer and give them some help because when it does come back, we don't want the verse crisis of how towels are all ready to open, but there's no workers ready to step in who are trained and experienced, who understand how important hospitality is to our success, that welcoming face that I always see when I go into my hotel no matter how late it is at night. People always make me feel part of the family. 

That's what today is about. Our hotel industry room occupancy is down 20 percent statewide; 30 percent in New York City. The state comptroller's office estimated that we've had a $60 billion hit to tourism. And we talked about the people who lost their jobs and who are still waiting for jobs to come back. They're younger, they're lower paid, they'reimmigrants, many without college degrees. You can't just say, oh, you don't have your job here, why don't you go work in advanced manufacturing? Or why don't you go pick up a job coding? That's not going to happen. They just need a little help a little bit longer. 

So my recognition is that New York will not come back until everyone's back in their jobs. We bring back tourism, we bring back jobs - and that's why today I'm very proud to announce a $450 million investment in our tourism workers and our businesses.

First in the nation - we're doing it right here in the State of New York, first in the nation to make that level of investment in our people and in our industries. 

First of all, let's talk about these workers. We're allocating $100 million to support the workers who've not been able to come back or not fully employed in the tourism industry.

These will be one-time payments of $2,700 to as many as 36,000 people who are just hanging on by a thread. We have to help them with this one-time payment, let them get through until they get that call they've all been waiting for that your job is back, come on home. That is going to happen very soon.

I've spent a lot of time in airports too. These are the people who work so hard, they wipe the tables when you get up to leave half your food on the table, which you never should do, you should clean up after yourselves. 

These are the people who play all kinds of roles. People who have not been able to clean a room or just be a person working at the front door of a hotel because there's nobody there to welcome in the door. So many hotels are still closed. 

So we're going to be helping people in those industries that have not come back fully yet. 

We're also going to work to help our businesses. A lot of businesses, just how much longer do I hold on? How much longer? We're of $100 million return- to-work grant program. And we're incentivizing the tourism businesses, the non-for-profits including the culturals, to rehire their workers. We know you can put them to use and I know financially it doesn't make sense - that's why we're going to help you out. Bring them back now, hold on to them for at least six months, and we'll give you $5,000 for every full-time employee you keep over six months. Let's help those businesses as well.

So to the museums that had to shorten their hours because they didn't have enough staff for the business that isn't fully operational - they're never going to make their full profits if they don't have the hours they used to have, but they can't have the hours without the workers. And they don't have enough revenue coming in to pay for the workers. So we'll give this extra bit of help of $5,000 per person. And that's everywhere from a small bed and breakfast up in the North Country that's still waiting for the Canadian visitors to come over, just let them hold on a little bit longer, all the way here to the businesses I mentioned in the city.

Our small businesses - I helped start a small business, my mother's little flower shop. She didn't like the flowers that were done by a neighboring florist at my brother's wedding so my mother, knowing nothing about retail, nothing about business, said she's going to start a flower shop. And her daughter, the newly minted lawyer as of a month, was going to help her do that. So I have a special affinity for small businesses, I can tell you. I know the risk they take. I know they put their heart and soul into it and they just want to be given a chance to survive. So we are going to be announcing my plan to propose for the next legislative session - $2 million of a business support program to help our small businesses. We had a program before. We need to put more money into it. We've already provided $325 million in assistance to 20,000 small businesses already - 83 percent has gone to MWBEs and I'm very proud of that. Let's keep that money flowing for these individuals.

Again, we thought really hard about how we get tourists here. Now one reason why they're not staying at hotels and they're not going to culturals and not coming to the place - the conventions are not back yet. I spent a lot of time in Javits. It's a lovely field hospital and a great vaccination site, but that's not what we want going on in Javits.

We want Javits to be packed with people from out of state, people with their wallets bursting with money they can't wait to spend here in the City of New York or all across the great convention centers in New York. So let's focus on getting the conventions booked again. Let's have that certainty to know they're going to be back. We are announcing a $25 million grant program for convention and event centers. We're calling it "Meet in New York." Let's all meet in New York. And I think that's fitting. We want to let tourists know from around the world and the people who organize the conventions, the businesses, the industries, to know that this is the place to come. 

And one more selling point - we have a 1 percent infection rate in the city. Less than 6 percent in some areas upstate, 2 percent statewide. This is where you come, plan your vacation, plan your convention, plan your first in-person meeting that you may not have had for 20 months. The smartest people are going to take their friends, their allies, their business workers, coworkers, industry partners and they will want to bring them to the safest place they can. People are smart here in New York. We've worked awfully hard to drive down those numbers and we will be among the first in the nation to declare the end of this pandemic. When that day comes, I will celebrate like no one ever saw me celebrate, but until then let's let them know, you come back here and we're going to be offering assistance to you to the tune of $25 million for assistance for our bookings.

New bookings - you come here and you book a new program, we're going to help you out. We're going to have grants all the way from $50,000 up to $2 million to bring major, major attractions here. So I'm very excited about that. 

And lastly, let's start spreading the news. Start spreading the news, not just here in the states, not just New York, but we are taking our message to Europe and select countries across the globe to make sure they see our advertising, that they have a chance to see this where they consume their data, where they consume their media, digital, on television, and let them see the great advertising that we have to entice them when they're sitting there saying, it's time to get on a plane again, it's time to book that family vacation, time to book that reunion, that they will think of nothing but New York State. So we are allocating another $25 million to enhance that global marketing campaign.

So those are the elements of our plan. 

And my message finally is, when this industry rises and comes back, that'll be the best indicator that we as a state will rise and be back. This industry is critically important to our psyche. This defines us. This is why people view us as the most exciting, most vibrant, most engaging place on this planet and anybody who disputes that, you got to get through me first, because I believe this to my core. That is the essence of New York City. That is the essence of New York State. And we are going to get out of this and we're going to look back at this time and people will judge us, even if we don't judge ourselves, people who judge us and say, how did New York State get out of this pandemic once and for all? And I will say it was the people who rose up

It was the industries who rose up. It was the people were able to get back to work because when we were back to tourism, we got the jobs back, we got the workers back and it all began here with these targeted approaches. This way we can put incentives on the table so no one has an excuse not to get back to work. We want them back to work. We want the businesses to reopen, we want the conventions to come here, we want the rest of the world to know that our arms are open. Welcome to New York. Thank you.

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