"Be Kind to Tourists": New York's Art Scene Needs International Visitors

When many readers in Toronto, London, Paris and Hong Kong open their newspapers on Monday, they will be greeted with a full-page ad from...


When many readers in Toronto, London, Paris and Hong Kong open their newspapers on Monday, they will be greeted with a full-page ad from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“We reopened in August 2020, but we missed one critical thing – you, our international visitors,” the announcement will say. “The Met is only the Met when it is enjoyed daily by visitors from around the world.”

The unusual exhibit – museum officials say they don’t think they’ve ever run a global marketing campaign of this magnitude targeting visitors so far from their Fifth Avenue homes – is a signal of the arts institutions’ thirst for New York for foreign visitors to come back. US borders reopened to international tourists this week for the first time since the first months of 2020. their return represents another milestone in New York’s reopening, and few sectors of the city’s economy attract foreign travelers – or rely more on them for their income – than the arts.

“Recovering this segment is crucial,” said Chris Heywood, vice president of global communications at the city’s travel agency, NYC & Company. “Arts and culture will guide our recovery. It is the backbone.

Indeed, billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry in New York City fell 66% from December 2019 to December 2020, according to a status report. Even as things reopen and workers are rehired, challenges remain: the tourism agency predicts visitor spending in 2021 will be around $ 24 billion, roughly half of what was spent in 2019 .

International visitors typically make up about one-fifth of visitors to the city, but they tend to stay longer and spend more than domestic visitors: what they spend is about half of all tourism dollars.

On Broadway, tourists from outside the United States make up about 15% of the audience during a traditional season, said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. (There’s a reason why the “The Lion King” website is lined with flags indicating where to click for translations of their sales pitch in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish.)

The Metropolitan Opera said international ticket sales have accounted for around 20% of total box office revenue over the past five seasons. And more than half of international visitors to New York City will visit an art gallery or museum during their trip, according to data from NYC & Company. One in four attends a live performance when in town, whether it’s a concert, play, musical, dance performance or opera.

So New York missed them.

“This is a big step forward,” said Victoria Bailey, executive director of the Theater Development Fund, the non-profit organization that operates the TKTS booth, where around 70 percent of tickets are purchased by tourists and around half of these sales are abroad. travelers.

Groups welcoming foreign tourists are getting ready. Broadway Inbound, a subsidiary of the Shubert organization which is responsible for the wholesale distribution of show tickets, recently restarted a marketing program which showcases more than 20 partner lounges to group buyers, tour operators and the travel industry.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art shifted some of its marketing dollars overseas in part because it hit a “cap” in attendance, museum spokesperson Ken Weine said. Before the pandemic, international travelers made up about a third of museum visitors; Nowadays, the number of people who come to the museum daily is about half of what it was before March 2020.

Musicals like “The Phantom of the Opera”, which have piqued the interest of tourists who want to see a long-running show they know well, have deliberately invested advertising funds during this holiday season and placed their screens. in a busy place, tourist areas. That’s why there is an imposing three-dimensional statue of the Ghost’s mask strategically placed next to the TKTS booth and the outdoor advertising for “Chicago” all over Times Square.

Foreign travelers have yet to start purchasing tickets for “Phantom” in significant numbers, said Aaron Lustbader, the show’s general manager. But officials hope that will change soon.

“Generally January and February are two of the weakest months of the year and that has certainly been true for ‘Phantom’,” he said. “Our hope is that due to pent-up demand of almost two years and assuming it would take at least a few weeks for most people to make plans, the city is seeing a much higher number of international tourists to the city. through those otherwise difficult months. “

Barry Weissler, a producer of “Chicago,” said the show typically teams up with online travel sites to run advertisements and try to pique the interest of foreign tourists before their flights to New York.

And for their part, tour operators and overseas ticket sellers say they’ve started to see their New York business rebound – somewhat.

Eric Lang, who runs an Amsterdam-based travel and information website that helps vacationers plan trips to New York City, said his October ticket sales were around 5% of normal. This month, sales are closer to 15-20% of what he expected this time, before the pandemic. “Growing from scratch,” he said.

Lee Burns, product manager for AttractionTickets.com, which sells event tickets to people and travel agents in the UK, said he thought the timing of the US reopening might be “a bit too late ”to capitalize on the 2021 holiday season. So far, he said, his company’s sales in New York are only about 10% of what is normal for the holiday season.

“People are booking now for next Thanksgiving and next Christmas,” he said. Nonetheless, he said he and his team were trying to figure out if there was some sort of deal they could come up with for this Black Friday.

Those coming to New York City from overseas will need to navigate and follow the vaccine rules and requirements set by state, city, and individual sites.

They will find that many venues and presenters, including Broadway Theaters, the Met Opera, the New York Philharmonic, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, will admit travelers who prove they have received one of the WHO approved vaccines. – a list that includes AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac, vaccines that have not been authorized for use in the United States.

To help viewers prepare for their visit to “Come From Away,” the show recently released a health and safety video outlining what patrons should expect when they show up at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. A Broadway Inbound official said he contacted the creators of the video to make sure it would be educational for domestic and foreign visitors.

Heywood, meanwhile, had already advocated for New Yorkers. “Be kind to tourists,” he said. “It is important.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: "Be Kind to Tourists": New York's Art Scene Needs International Visitors
"Be Kind to Tourists": New York's Art Scene Needs International Visitors
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