MANHATTAN NY – With the advent of industry and information technology, the world grew smaller and pulled New York City to its center- a pure gravitation of culture and ideas. Today, the bustling and incessant rivers of denizens and business people flowing through the streets are peppered with foam Statue of Liberty helmets or “I love New York” tee shirts.
The international recession has done little to slow the tourism industry, which is one of the city’s most important financial avenues. The total number of foreign tourists that visited New York City in 2009 was roughly similar to the number of people who lived in the city- not including visitors from within the United States.
A Brooklyn resident and founder of Levy’s UniqueNewYork Tours, Mark Levy started his family run tour guide business in 2003. Levy has thrived through the economic turmoil that has crippled so many.
The self-made tour guide claimed that while some tour agencies in the city have lost money during the recession, his business has done relatively well throughout the economic crisis.
“Everyone talks about how little a hit they’re taking. Our [revenues] went down a little bit, not much,” he said.
According to market and tourism organization New York City & Company, the city attracted more than 45 million tourists from the US and abroad in 2009, a slight reduction from 2008’s 47 million. About eight million of the Big Apple’s total visitors are foreigners traveling abroad, a number which matches the number of tourists Ireland receives in a year.
New York SkyRides employee Kenneth Greene claims that although the numbers suggest loss, revenue for the virtual reality tour group has been strong, bringing in as much as $5,000 per week.
“I’ve been here [for] six years and business is booming,” he said.
When asked his theory on how New York’s tourist economy has remained so successful, Mark Levy responded that in the past few years Americans who wanted a vacation in a world-class city would be more comfortable staying within the country.
“Americans wanted [in the past] to go to some place exotic and where they were liked, well that’s New York City. Some people didn’t feel safe traveling overseas, so they would choose to come to New York.”