New York Has Flushed Away $1.5 Billion

New York Has Flushed Away $1.5 Billion

Empire Government Strategies Chairman Arthur “Jerry” Kremer writes in The Huffington Post about the billions in tourist dollars that New York City has lost over the past few years. Current legislation before the New York City Council can change this and stop the loss of dollars from the City.

$1.5 Billion Flushed Away By New York Since 2010


New York City’s economy and nearly 360,000 members of its workforce rely on tourism for their jobs and income (*1). Yet it’s stunning that this month alone, the Big Apple lost out on over $23 million in local tourist spending, having nothing to do with the reasons one might expect (*2).

In 2014, a record 56.4 million tourists came to New York City, helping to generate jobs at theaters, hotels, restaurants, shops and in the transportation sector. So when the city recognizes a roadblock deterring thousands of new tourists each and every month, costing it more than $1.5 billion in lost revenue over the last 5 ½ years (*2), that issue needs to be addressed.

Last year cities including Washington, D.C., Boston, Miami, Chicago and New Orleans attracted hundreds of thousands of youth travelers, ages 15 to 30, at the expense of New York, largely because those destinations had already taken actions to adapt to an evolving tourism marketplace. That revolutionary change is documented by the United Nationals World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)(*3) finding that the international youth travel sector is growing rapidly from $173 billion per year currently to $320 billion by 2020, and will soon account for an astounding 25 percent of ALL international travel.

It’s for a peculiar and easily corrected reason, why New York City is missing out on this tourism boom. In 2010, the State of New York amended the city’s Multiple Dwelling Law and Administrative Code. An inadvertent casualty was the forced closure of about 50 youth hostels that hosted some two-million overnight stays each year (*4).

An immediate and drastic falloff happened because preferences and expectations of younger budget-conscious travelers differ from those on business or family vacation. The younger tourists may be traveling pre-or-post-college, alone or in a group, going to multiple cities where they require lower cost lodging that does not cut into their ability to afford significant cultural experiences.

So over the last 5 ½ years, youth travelers have simply avoided the Big Apple, because it lacked reasonably priced places for them to rest their heads at night (*5).

While the significant loss of local economic, job and cultural exchange is disturbing, the New York City Council and the Mayor have a new opportunity to bring new, affordable temporary tourist housing via a new law to legalize the construction, regulation and operation of properly sited, licensed youth hostels within commercial districts. What’s more, the opportunity to be located across all five boroughs should more evenly distribute the long-term economic benefits, which previously only Manhattan gained.

Time is truly of the essence, as travel industry studies show that tourists who patronize hostels in their youth are more likely to return to those cities in later years, for business and vacation, and will then stay in full-service hotels. It means, if our city gives these young visitors a favorable experience, they will return for more of the food, culture and great architecture that New York has to offer.

The international hostel industry has been growing steadily over the last several decades and in 2014 the United States was the number one destination for its customers, with in excess of 300,000 U.S. bookings (*6).

Once dowdy, boarding house style facilities long-ago gave way to a new modern urbanism that millennials demand, while cities that permitted the addition of such modern hostels have experienced a boom in tourism. If New York City follows that national trend, youth travelers will surely be its next big hospitality market dispersed across the city’s diverse landscape. The next move, “it’s up to you, New York, New York.”

Jerry Kremer is Chairman of Empire Government Strategies and served 23 years as a member of the New York State Assembly, including 12 years as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee and served by appointment of the Governor on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Capital Review Board and the Public Authorities Control Board. He is also a spokesman for Hostelworld, the globe’s largest reservation service in the hostel industry. Hostelworld does not own or operate hostels.

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*1 Source: NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and marketing organization.

*2 Source: Supporting the Regulation of Hostels in New York City. Page 6: “The value of the hostel sector to the City was in the order of $280M in 2014.”The 2014 $280M dollar value of the hostel sector was used to find the $23 million monthly loss to the Big Apple and the estimated 1.5 billion lost since 2010.

*3 Source: Youth Travel Market Research, analysis conducted by student marking which is an affiliate member of UNWTO.

*4 Source: Supporting the Regulation of Hostels in New York City. Page 7: “Since 2010 alone, approx. 50 hostels have closed down in New York City as a direct result of the legislation. We estimate that this has meant a decrease in excess of 2 million available bed nights in the city on an annual basis based on the bed capacity of these properties.”

*5 Source: Supporting the Regulation of Hostels in New York City. Page 8: “The impact of hostel closures is evident from recent data compiled by the company. Key trends include: Travellers increasingly choosing other destinations in the US over New York City.”

*6 Source: Supporting the Regulation of Hostels in New York City. Page 3: “The hostel industry has been steadily growing over the last several decades. In 2014 The United States was the number one destination for hostel customers with in excess of 300,000 bookings into U.S. hostel properties.”

Long Island Stagnates as Construction Booms Nearby

Long Island Stagnates as Construction Booms Nearby

[As Seen on Long Island Business News]

Everyone knows that there is a vast economic gap between upstate and downstate New York. Upstate communities are losing their young people and there are very few new major commercial and residential projects on the horizon. New York City is another story. Its five boroughs are booming and new construction is cropping up all over.

With the exception of the Hamptons, which is experiencing its own building boom, there isn’t much going on in Nassau or Suffolk counties these days. There is a smattering of new home construction on the North and South Forks and a few isolated projects underway in scattered parts of the counties, but that’s just about it for the economic picture on Long Island.

The bi-county area is blessed with the presence of many progressive and growing companies who have dedicated and hardworking local employees and appreciate the many benefits that Long Island offers. But somehow, there isn’t much else going on from the Queens border to Montauk Point.

By any measure the Island is an excellent place to live with its good schools, great beaches, and the short commuting distance to New York City. Its positives far outweigh its negatives, but the negatives are what is hurting the potential for new economic growth. Ask any corporate executive why the Island isn’t seeing dramatic changes: at the top of their list is taxes. It’s true that you can’t get good schools without tax revenues and that local governments need revenue to keep functioning. But taxes continue to be a problem.

In his remarks about government costs in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo continually stresses that we have too much government. There are an estimated 300 local taxing entities on Long Island alone and a glance at a tax bill will show that communities pay taxes for lighting districts, escalator districts and dozens of water and sanitation districts that could be easily folded into the town structure.

The challenge for our elected officials is to take an eyes wide-open look at the state of the Island and start thinking about how we can enjoy some of that economic boom that our neighbors to the west are experiencing.

Kremer is a former member of the New York State Assembly.

Crowded Field Threatens the GOP’s Chances

Crowded Field Threatens the GOP’s Chances

[as posted on The Island Now]

The male star of the Broadway show South Pacific sang about an enchanted evening when he spotted his true love “across a crowded room.”

Nobody really likes a packed room, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is going to be for the 15-plus announced Republican candidates for president to fit onto one platform starting this August.

Anyone who follows presidential politics recalls the mob scene at each of the 2012 Republican presidential debates when eight potential candidates tried to respond to the questions posed by some media personality. There’s nothing more boring than watching a bunch of grown men trying to score points at the expense of the other panelists.

By all accounts, leaders of the national Republican Party agreed that the last series of Republican debates hurt their eventual candidate, Mitt Romney, who became a target for all of the other contestants.

It’s tough enough to go one-on-one in a debate but to find yourself being attacked by a swarm of other candidates is an exercise in futility.

The eventual loser, Mitt Romney, has stated on numerous occasions that he felt the party’s debate system was seriously flawed and it was one, among many reasons, that he eventually lost to President Obama. He described the debates as “chaotic and often out of control.”

Most people would agree that debates with a large number of candidates leads to someone being embarrassed by some pressured answer. It’s hard to forget Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s famous discussion of his three-point platform for the future and forgetting the third point.

Opponents of Mitt Romney managed to blur his business record, his accomplishments as a governor of Massachusetts and smear him for his offshore holdings.

By the time Romney got to face President Obama he was a wounded candidate with few prospects of healing.

Having too many announced candidates also leads to tons of television money being spent knocking the other opponent with slick commercials and below-the-belt tactics. As the crowd gets bigger there is less a possibility that any one person will emerge unscarred.

Sensing disaster in the making Republican National Chair Reince Preibus has pledged that the number of debaters will not exceed 10.O.K., that eliminates at least six at this time and possibly another four or five when Chris Christie, George Pataki, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal come forward to save America.

But doesn’t that resemble something like the 2012 debacle?



Slow Death of the Neighborhood Doctor

Slow Death of the Neighborhood Doctor

(As featured in the Huffington Post)

New York has another name to add to its endangered species list — the individual family doctor.

No one enjoys dealing with insurance companies, especially when you are trying to obtain coverage for a medical procedure. Spending hours on the phone, or going back and forth over bills or pre-authorization for a test, can make anyone’s blood boil. Now imagine if that was your job.

For many physicians throughout New York State, negotiating with insurance companies has become a primary component of their job description. Your average small family doctor may spend more time trying to get an insurer to cover a visit than he or she does caring for actual patients.

A new study by has highlighted some of these issues and has dubbed New York one of the worst states for doctors to practice medicine.

The repercussions are clear. Patients’ wait times are increasing and the time spent with the physician is getting shorter. Individual physician practices have very little ability to negotiate one-on-one with large insurance companies, because they are too small. However, if the law allowed them to group together with other small practices to negotiate contracts, patients would receive better care and have more of their medical bills covered.


Let’s Look Ahead to Summer

We New Yorkers are enduring one of the bitterest winters in the last 25 years. Gasoline prices may be low, but the cost of heating your home or business is now sky-high. On weekends, many of us spend time just looking out the window, hoping the spring thaw will come soon and life will be livable once again.

So rather than just get caught up in the winter malaise, I decided to turn the clock forward and forecast what life will be like in mid-July. No doubt with all the ups and downs in the weather patterns, many of you will be complaining about a recent seven-day heat wave that has made our air quality dangerous and packed our local beaches to capacity. And a few of you will be hoping for that refreshing cold weather to come back.

Congress will probably be going through its eighth legislative crisis of the year. The series of short-term laws that keep the government alive will again be expiring, and there’s a good chance that all of the federal parks will be closing down by Aug. 1 and 500,000 federal employees will face payless paydays. Republican leaders in both houses will be pleading with their ultra-conservative members to pass a bill to keep the government running for another 60 days.

Many of the current front-running Republican candidates for president will drop to the second tier. Say goodbye to Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Keep an eye on U.S. Rep. Peter King as a dark horse for vice president. Republican women will be planning a revolt at the party’s convention a year from now, insisting that there be a woman on the ticket to counteract Hillary. In the meantime, Mrs. Clinton will still be debating her possible candidacy, even though she has more than 100 campaign offices open throughout the country. Vice President Joe Biden will make it clear that he is still available.