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Times Square aspires to reclaim its sheen as tourism improves




Times Square, often known as the “Crossroads of the World,” is one of New York City’s most iconic sights and unquestionably one of the city’s busiest places, with an average of 360,000 people passing through daily. But today’s Times Square is a far cry from what it was at its inception, and even from what it looked like only a few decades ago.

Impact of COVID-19 on Times Square

Tourist traffic increased as Times Square became a more safe, family-friendly destination in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When the city began building on a temporary pedestrian plaza in Times Square in 2009, with permanent construction alongside it, foot traffic increased even more but COVID-19 changed it a lot.

While tourists have begun to return, foot traffic into Grand Slam souvenir shops is still far from what it was before the coronavirus pandemic, when crowds of international visitors flocked to the canopy of electric billboards just outside the door.

However, the return of foreign tourists to a city known as the “world’s crossroads” may hasten the recovery of enterprises like these— many of which are mom-and-pop stores — which employ thousands of people and are one of New York City’s most vital economic engines.

Traffic in and around Times Square

On average, 105,000 people per day walk through the Big Apple’s most popular tourist attraction to see the giant billboards and neon lights, trek into surrounding business buildings — and, more lately, dine indoors at restaurants that allow it.

That’s a 65 percent drop from the area’s thriving pre-COVID-19 days, but it’s a huge improvement over the ghost town the popular pedestrian promenade became at the start of the epidemic when electronic counters embedded in the district’s streetscape registered only 35,000 individuals each day.

The Times Square Alliance, which promotes the neighborhood, is pleased with the improvement. Local companies agree as well.

Promotional Media Event Event

A media blitz is intended to remind the globe that the city is open for business to the unvaccinated. The speed with which the area recovers could serve as a barometer for the rest of the tourism industry in the United States.

According to The Times Square Alliance, a local civic association, when Broadway theatres shuttered their doors at the height of the pandemic, 9 out of 10 businesses in the vicinity closed as well.

Three-fourths of the theatres have since reopened, one by one, as Broadway performances have begun to reopen to vaccinated-only audiences.

Annual traditions such as New York City’s large Thanksgiving parade and the Times Square New Year’s Eve event could bring in additional visitors.

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, has recently announced a $450 million effort to boost the tourism industry.

On a lighter note recently, William Brownstein was seen selling comedy club tickets to onlookers who might be eager to laugh off the months of bad news.

“With all the weird stuff going on” — with Republicans and Democrats, with pro-and anti-vaccine beliefs — “you need to laugh about it,” said Brownstein, who returned to comedy in May, shortly after comedy clubs were allowed to reopen.