New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, proposed a $450 million package of state spending on Monday to help the state’s struggling tourism industry, including one-time grants to laid-off workers and their employers.
Ms. Hochul said the state would make payments of $2,750 to as many as 36,000 workers in the tourism industry who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, promising “that’s going to happen very soon.” She said the state also would offer grants of $5,000 to companies in the industry that rehire workers and employ them for six months.
Those grant programs, which would add up to $200 million, would help revive tourism, which is the state’s third-largest industry and employs about 10 percent of its workers, Ms. Hochul said.
“There are so many jobs that are still not back yet,” she said at a presentation at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “People have been holding on a long time since they lost their extended unemployment benefits back in September.”
The event was staged to highlight the depressed condition of the state’s tourism industry on the day the federal government allowed vaccinated foreign tourists from many countries to enter the country for the first time in 20 months.
Aides to the governor said $250 million of the money would come from a combination of federal Covid-relief funds and existing state budget allocations. The rest would require legislative approval.
Before the lockdown spurred by the pandemic in March 2020, tourists spent more than $73 billion annually in New York state, $47 billion of it in New York City. Visitors from outside the country made up just 20 percent of the city’s tourists but they accounted for half of that spending, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency.
Ms. Hochul also pledged to add $25 million to the budget for the state’s “I Love NY” tourism promotions, much of which will be spent on advertising in countries in Europe and other regions. The state will offer an additional $25 million in grants to lure conventions and other large gatherings to the state, she said.
Beyond those immediate infusions, Ms. Hochul said that in January she would propose legislation to provide $200 million in relief for small businesses started just before or during the pandemic.
Standing behind a sign that read “Bring back tourism. Bring back jobs,” Ms. Hochul said, “We want to put incentives on the table so no one has an excuse not to get back to work.”