New York looking to claw back on lost youth traveller revenue
In 2014 cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Miami and Chicago attracted hundreds of thousands of youth travellers. Unfortunately for New York City, it is missing out on this tourism boom.
Several New York City Council members are looking to correct that problem so the global youth travel sector — valued at $320 billion annually by 2020*, will turn more of its attention to the Big Apple.
City Council Member Mark Weprin (District 23-Queens), Chair of Zoning and Franchises, has introduced Intro 699 to legalise the construction, regulation and operation of licensed youth hostels in commercial districts within the five boroughs. Presently, New York City does not have a law that legalises youth hostels.
“Hostels are a popular component of travel all around the world owing to the unique community feel that they offer. A lot of young people do not have the money to stay at luxury hotels,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin. “We need a place for people on a budget to stay. This is an opportunity to offer young people clean, safe places to stay that are not as expensive as hotels.”
The new legislation would also advance the fight against illegal short-term sublets and rentals of residential facilities that affect residential communities and buildings across the five boroughs. Council Member David Greenfield (District 44-Brooklyn) Chair of the New York City Council Land Use Committee said, “New York City is expensive. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to enjoy everything our wonderful city has to offer. Hostels allow anyone to travel on a budget and explore everything our city has to offer from right here in New York City instead of staying elsewhere. Quite frankly, it’s the most progressive form of lodging. That’s why I am proud to support Introduction 699.”
“Creating safe, well-regulated youth hostels in New York City would be a clear win-win — providing a smart, low-cost option for younger travellers, as well as providing solid new revenue for our city,” said Council Member Margaret Chin (District 1-Manhattan). “In addition, opening fully legal and licensed youth hostels will allow young people to enjoy the hostel experience without ending up in an illegal short-term rental, which can be unsafe and cause quality of life problems for residents of my Lower Manhattan district and all across the city. I’m pleased to support this legislation, and I thank Council Member Weprin for taking the lead on this issue.”
Hostelworld.com, an international travel reservations service provider focused on the hostel and budget accommodation sector, estimates the market for hostel bookings in New York City alone will add $178 million annually in spending on accommodations.
Feargal Mooney, CEO of Hostelworld (www.Hostelworld.com) the world’s largest hostel reservation service said, “Young international travellers are currently sidestepping the five boroughs because they cannot afford to lodge here. The authorisation of New York City Youth Hostel legislation would result in hundreds of millions of new tourist dollars reaching Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island commercial districts, in addition to more spending at Manhattan tourist destinations.”
He continued, “The hostel owners and managers we represent are eager to invest and plant their brand flags in New York, but before they can invest, they require legal clarification in the law.”
Travel industry studies show that youth travellers who use hostels have a higher chance of returning as next generation hotel users for business meetings, family vacations and other travels. Under the new legislation, hostels would be regulated and licensed by the city. Hostel operators and their customers will also pay all occupancy and sales taxes.
Since 2010 New York has lost out on an estimated $1.2 billion in tourism spending with 200,000 annual international youth travellers sidestepping the city. That year Governor David Patterson signed legislation amending the Multiple Dwelling Law and New York City Administrative Code (A. 10008 / S.6873B) to restrict and eliminate Single Room Occupancy (SRO) entities. An inadvertent casualty of that legislation was New York City’s then-booming hostel industry and the hundreds of millions of tourism dollars it brought to the city. The law forced the closing of approximately 50 hostels in NY City that hosted some two million overnight stays each year.
Each of those youth tourists spend on average an additional $175 per person, per day on tours, transportation, shopping and entertainment, above and beyond their lodging costs, meaning the Weprin Bill would likely pump millions into the local economies of communities all across the five boroughs.
Jerry Kremer, who served for 12 years as Chairman of the NY State Assembly Ways & Means Committee and an advocate for Youth Hostels said, “City Councilman Mark Weprin has proposed a licensing law that will allow hostels to be built in commercial areas only. If passed, the law would create new construction jobs as well as long term positions working in this unique area of the hospitality industry. Hotels in our city are beyond the price range for the typical youth hostel guest. The chance to get an affordable, clean and safe room in a hostel setting is consistent with the Mayor’s signature efforts of affordability.”
*according to youth travel consulting and development company StudentMarketing. http://www.student-market.com/