Tourism industry producing thousands of jobs for Queens, but report warns of challenges

Photo via Flickr/faungg

Tourism continues to be a big boon for Queens’ economy, according to a new report released on Monday.

In Destination New York, a report published on May 7 by the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), it is estimated that New York City tourism has created thousands of jobs in Queens, while also benefiting Queens residents who work in other boroughs.

According to the report, the borough is home to 3,272 “accommodations jobs,” which is up from 2,396 in the year 2000. This represents a 37 percent increase over the last two decades.

The Association for a Better New York(ABNY) and Times Square Alliance funded the report, and found that the increase in tourism is linked to growth across multiple industries, including cultural attractions, restaurants, bars and shops. The number of Queens residents who work in bars and restaurants  increased by 88 percent over the last 20 years. In 2016, Queens establishments employed 45,276 people, which grew from just 24,033 in 2000.

The benefits of tourism not only affect the borough as a whole, but also affect the individual neighborhoods within Queens. The CUF report said that that in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, tourists are responsible for 12 percent of all spending in electronics stores and 10 percent of spending in discount stores. In total, tourists account for 6 percent of all total spending in those neighborhoods, which equals more than $23 million annually.

CUF reports that benefits expand beyond individuals who work in Queens. There are 14,750 Queens residents working in the accommodations or hospitality sector, which is significantly more than any other borough. Second is Brooklyn, which boasts 10,986 hotel workers; third is Manhattan which has 8,324; the Bronx is fourth with 6,881; and Staten Island comes in last with just 1,819 hotel workers. The average employee in this industry earns about $62,000 a year.

The report goes on to say that though the tourism boom has positively impacted New York City’s economy as a whole, new challenges in the tourism industry could cause a job decline in the future. Some of these challenges include the strengthening dollar and growing negative perceptions of the United States, to capacity problems at the city’s airports.

The study also finds that New York has never adequately planned for a city with 60 million tourists a year, or made sufficient investments in its tourism infrastructure to sustain that amount of annual visitors.

The entire 43-page report can be accessed by PDF at this link.

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