Saturday, November 28, 2015

New York assures tourists that city is safe to visit

New York is telling tourists that the biggest city in the US is safe as it prepares to welcome more than five million visitors over the holiday season following the attacks in Paris.

The winter tourism season kicked off with Thursday’s Thanksgiving Parade, when hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to watch the three-hour event amid tight security.

After the Paris attacks on November 13, an Islamic State group propaganda video broadcast images of New York from Times Square. US authorities hit back that there was no credible threat against the city or anywhere else in the United States.

“We had some hotel cancellations from small groups,” said Chris Heywood, senior vice president of global communications at NYC and Company — the city’s official marketing and tourism organization.

Despite what he calls a “sprinkling of a few cancelations,” he is still encouraging people to visit the city for the “magical holiday season” that lasts through December until New Year.

“The city is open,” he told reporters. “It is business as usual.”

Ninety people were killed at the Bataclan concert hall in the Paris attacks, but the Broadway League says there has been no drop in attendance since the carnage in France.

The US State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert, warning Americans of a heightened terrorist threat in “multiple regions,” which has added to the worry of tourism professionals.

“We have seen a fall in reservations,” said the CEO of Air France, Alexandre de Juniac, when he was in New York last week. A US airline also said reservations from Europe were down.

“I was in a plane 90 percent empty,” Christine Priotto, mayor of Dieulefit, a town in southern France, told reporter after arriving this week in New York on a private visit. “It was a little strange.”

In Times Square, where police armed with heavy guns can be seen on patrol, bus ticket tout Farid Et Takaouy said he had never seen so little trade for the end of November.

“People take photos of the police and send them to their friends everywhere and so people don’t want to come any more,” he said.

 Agencies via Shanghai Daily -

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