Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

The downside of the post 9/11 tourism boom

A revival that's generating some growing pains along with celebration.

For local residents and businesses, the throngs of visitors have brought an economic boon and new energy to their stricken neighbourhood, community groups told City Council members at a committee hearing Friday. But there also have been downsides: crowded sidewalks, overflowing trash cans and local businesses being pressed into service as public bathrooms.

City officials say they're working to iron out the problems, for the sake of tourists as well as residents.

"We want to give the visitor a good experience," said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who convened Friday's hearing.

In the early years after the 2001 attacks, it was difficult to envision crowds becoming a problem in lower Manhattan, which officials define as a one-mile-square (2.6-square-km) area that includes upscale Tribeca, the financial district, Battery Park City and some other neighbourhoods south of Canal Street. Many businesses shunned the area; hundreds, if not thousands, of residents moved away.

But lower Manhattan now has three times as many residents as it did before the attacks; there also are slightly more businesses, officials say. Not to mention the 9.8 million tourists who visited the area last year, up 30% in two years, according to the local business improvement district, called the Downtown Alliance. The growth partly reflects people flocking to the September 11 memorial, which has drawn about 4.5 million visitors since it opened in September 2011.

Narrow streets and construction zones
There are three times as many lower Manhattan hotel rooms as before 9/11, the alliance says, and tourists make up a growing share of the guests in hotels that traditionally catered to business travelers. The city's tourism arm, NYC & Co., estimates that international visitors spent $1-billion in lower Manhattan last year, a calculation derived from government surveys and other data.

The influx of residents and tourists – and, at times, Occupy Wall Street protesters, who camped in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park last year – has come in an area rife with narrow streets and construction zones: 69 of them at the moment, according to Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of the local community board.

Getting around can entail navigating sidewalks congested with scaffolding, picture-taking tourists, teeming litter baskets and piles of trash from apartment and office buildings. And getting to a public restroom can be tricky; the September 11 memorial plaza doesn't have any, though bathrooms are planned in the accompanying museum, now under construction.

While residents realise the benefits of tourism, "it's something that needs to be dealt with," McVay Hughes said. She presented the council's Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee with a to-do list that ranged from building bathrooms to increasing trash pickups to cracking down on tour buses that park where they're not allowed.

The city already has taken some steps, such as adding more garbage cans in the area since August, said Jeff Mandel, a City Hall economic development policy advisor. Other moves include keeping the memorial visitors' line from crowding the sidewalk and encouraging memorial visitors to take mass transit instead of private tour buses, he said. – Sapa-AP

        

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Sapa Ap
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment

More top stories

SA teens, you’re next in the queue for a vaccine...

Teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 will be able to register to receive their Covid-19 jab from 20 October. This group will be given only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, for now

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies aged 84

The 84-year-old died as a result of complications from Covid-19

Kunming Declaration on biodiversity: A show of political will that...

More than 100 countries pledged to better protect nature at UN biodiversity talks last week

Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine turned down over HIV concerns

The vaccine might increase the risk of vaccinated males getting HIV, says SA’s health products regulatory authority
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×