- November 11, 2021
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Gov. Hochul is offering some financial relief to New York’s hospitality and tourism industries in the form of grants and direct payments to those still feeling the economic consequences of the COVID pandemic.
The governor unveiled a $450 million package Monday aimed at assisting those still out of work and boosting the state’s struggling hotels and restaurants on the same day that fully vaccinated foreign tourists are once again permitted to travel into the U.S.
“The only way we’re going to say that New York is truly back is when the tourism industry is back as well,” Hochul said during an event at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “I believe they are interconnected.”
The package includes $2,700 direct payments to as many as 36,000 tourism and hospitality workers who were on extended federal unemployment insurance, which ended in September.
It also include $100 million dollars in incentives for restaurants, hotels and tour guide companies to hire back workers more quickly. Employers who keep those workers on for six months would receive a $5000 bonus.
“When this industry rises and comes back, that will be the best indicator that we as a state will rise and be back,” Hochul said. “This industry is critically important to our psyche. This defines us. This is why people view as us the most exciting, most vibrant, most engaging place on this planet.”
The governor said she also plans to make a push in next year’s budget negotiations for $200 million dollars from the pandemic small business recovery grant program for small business ventures that were created just before or during the pandemic and are not eligible for existing funds.
The direct payment portion of the package is a savvy move for Hochul as she seeks a full term in office next year and faces primary challenges from someone like Attorney General James, who has long enjoyed close relationships with unions, one Albany insider said.
“It’s a very politically smart move for Hochul to use the power of her office to build a network of labor support that could otherwise go for Tish,” the source noted.
The politically-powerful Hotel Trades Council, the union representing hotel workers in the city, said last month that close to 60% of its 30,000 members in the Big Apple remain unemployed.
Labor leaders across the board applauded the package, calling it a win for workers.
“Too many RWDSU members have suffered from a lack of hours or complete lack of employment due to the state’s lingering loss of tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Our members in the airline industry have particularly been hard hit.
“Supporting workers who have been impacted by the decline in tourism is a necessary component for our state’s reopening,” he added.