NYC tourism gearing up for holidays post-Sandy

Associated Press Published: November 20, 2012

Hotel occupancy for the week ending Nov. 10 was also down slightly in New York City by about 1 percent compared to the same week the previous year, with rates flat, according to the latest figures from STR, which collects hotel industry data.

Scott Berman, a leisure industry analyst for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says those figures reflect a "relatively robust" market even though demand for New York hotel rooms "changed dramatically" for two weeks.

"You had displaced residents, stranded tourists, and demand from the infrastructure industry — power crews, insurance agents — filling hotels in the New York market," he said.

Berman said the shutdown of New York's airports for several days also had ripple effects. "The rest of the country was paralyzed for a week," he said. "Every top 25 market tracked by STR had a significant revpar (revenue per available room) decline for the same day, same week."

But he added that history has shown that disasters can sometimes be a prelude to redevelopment and resurgent tourism, as was seen in New Orleans following Katrina.

"Longer term outlooks in a post-disaster environment, and this goes for the New Jersey coast, Atlantic City and the New York metro area, is that it gives some owners a chance to find what's broken and fix it," he said. "Generally the hotel industry comes through stronger,"

Fertitta says the city expects to break tourism records this year despite the drop related to the storm. "We expect to hit about 52 million visitors, up from 50.9 million in 2011," he said. "We expect half of that lost business to rebook before the end of the year."