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International tourists are finally being let back into NYC

The lifting of numerous global travel restrictions will take place just in time for the holidays.

Will Gleason
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Will Gleason
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After a somber 2020 holiday season full of canceled parties and isolated celebrations, the holidays in the city this year are gearing up to be a lot closer to their festive normal.

It was announced today that the Biden administration will be lifting restrictions on fully vaccinated international travelers starting in November. Foreigners looking to fly into the U.S. from some European countries, Iran and China have been barred from doing so for more than a year. The travel restrictions were first implemented by the Trump administration in January of 2020. President Biden kept the restrictions against the E.U., Britain, India and others in place after he took office.

In addition to reuniting many families and loved ones that have been separated during this unprecedented time, and opening up the city to regular business travel, the policy change means that the normal flood of tourists into New York for the holiday season will start inching back up to pre-Covid numbers.

"Opening international travel is critical to New York City's continued tourism recovery,” says Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company. “While international travel comprises 20 percent of visitor volume in a typical year, it generates 50 percent of tourism spending and 50 percent of hotel room nights. International visitors stay longer and spend more.” 

The push for drawing in more tourists to New York is happening state level as well. The Empire State Development recently launched a massive new fall tourism campaign on the I Love NY website hoping to entice both out-of-staters and locals to make the most of the state’s vibrant fall foliage, harvest celebrations and rich autumnal activities. Starting in November, a higher proportion of these tourists could be coming from overseas as well.

“As the number one port of entry for the US and the city with the highest share of overseas travel, the decision to open international borders safely is the news we have been waiting for and a shot in the arm for our industry,” says Dixon. “We look forward to the administration's plan and seeing it take full effect this fall."

Speaking of fall, if you’re already in New York and feel like being a tourist in your own city, check out our list of the 31 best things to do this fall in NYC.

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