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New York cleans up for Christmas, tourists

  • Associated Press
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at 10:23 p.m.

— The Big Apple’s tourism sector is gearing up for the holidays and trying to get out the message that all but a handful of attractions and hotels are open following Superstorm Sandy.

The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the New York Aquarium at Coney Island remain closed, along with a couple of Lower Manhattan hotels. But the 9/11 Memorial park downtown is back to normal, as is nearly all subway service. Gas rationing ends in the city Friday.

The busy holiday season kicks off Thursday as planned with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The tree at Rockefeller Center is scheduled to be lit Nov. 28 and performances of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular run as scheduled through Dec. 30.

“We had a tragic incident but we are back except for the recovery in parts of the city that are more residential,” said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourism organization.

Neighborhoods that still have a long way to go in terms of cleanup and recovery are mostly in outlying sections of the city, in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Still, effects of the storm are still being felt in some sectors. Theater attendance was nearly 6 percent lower last week than the same week a year ago, according to the Broadway League.

The Museum of Modern Art reported 26 percent fewer visitors – a drop of about 20,000 people – between Oct. 29 and Nov. 11, compared to the same period last year. The American Museum of Natural History said a drop-off in attendance immediately following the hurricane has stabilized, and the museum is expecting big crowds the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally one of its busiest days each year.

Hotel occupancy for the week ending Nov. 10 was also down slightly in New York City by about 1 percent compared to the same week the previous year, with rates flat, according to the latest figures from STR, which collects hotel industry data.

Scott Berman, a leisure industry analyst for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says those figures reflect a “relatively robust” market.

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