New York City leaders, led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, are closing in on a plan to drastically restrict hotel development, a move that the mayor’s own experts fear could endanger the city’s post-pandemic recovery.
It came days after the mayor announced a $30 million advertising campaign to draw tourists to the city again.
Before the pandemic, in 2019, 67 million tourists flocked to the city. About 23 million visited last year, and much of the city’s recovery hinges on bringing those visitors back.
But building hotels would become more challenging under the special approval process envisioned by Mr. de Blasio, said Moses Gates, vice president of housing and neighborhood planning at the Regional Plan Association, an influential nonprofit planning group.
Before the pandemic decimated the hotel sector, there were nearly 128,000 hotel rooms in New York City, and hotels had annual occupancy rates that averaged between 85 and 90 percent, which the city says “were among the highest of any urban market in the United States.”
Now, roughly 30 percent of those rooms have closed. New York City’s occupancy rate this month stood at 53 percent, excluding the closed hotels, according to STR, which tracks the hospitality industry.