When City Councilman Daniel Garodnick convened a hearing on the economic impact of President Donald Trump’s suspended travel bans Thursday afternoon, the hotels, airlines and other potentially affected businesses were nowhere to be found.
The bans were blocked in court, but “the damage was done,” said Garodnick, D-Manhattan, at the hearing, because “the message this travel ban sent is that foreigners are no longer welcome.”
The expected number of international visitors to the city this year was reduced by 700,000 after Trump’s election, which would entail a drop of $600 million in visitor spending.
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Businesses have been hesitant to come out swinging at the travel ban and immigration policies that the city’s tourism bureau, NYC & Company, blames for the projected decreases.
But Ireland-based Hostelword.com, which wants the City Council to make hostels legal again in New York, seized the opportunity to offer its bill up as a solution.
“I am here [on] behalf of the hostel industry, to offer our assistance to the council on a pathway to recoup those lost international travelers,” lobbyist Anthony Figliola of Empire Government Strategies testified. He estimated that reviving hostels would bring the city $234 million worth of business.
Businesses likely to hurt by Trump’s immigration and travel policies, such as restaurants and contractors with many undocumented immigrant workers, have largely declined to talk publicly about their concerns. Even industry trade groups have been careful not to criticize the president.
Councilman Joe Borelli, R-Staten Island, pushed back against NYC & Company’s description of the tourism decline. A Trump supporter, Borelli asked if the city would study the potentially positive economic impact of a reduction in the corporate tax rate, which the president has promised. He dismissed the city’s lowered projections as speculative.
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