Life has gradually returned to normalcy over the past year or so, but we're still far away from pre-COVID levels, especially when it comes to tourism. And that's certainly true in New York City. However, in this Fool Live video clip, recorded on Jan. 28, Christina Chiu, CFO of Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT -0.39%), explains why she thinks NYC will come back stronger than ever.
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Matt Frankel: Your latest projections are based on tourism or at least traffic to the observatory, returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022, give or take a few percentage points. Do you see any long-term impacts to New York City tourism, especially from international sources, which is a great deal of the observatory traffic as a result of the pandemic, or do you see it really rebounding to pre-pandemic levels and staying there?
Christina Chiu: We have confidence New York City will come back. I think what we've all learned is, COVID and its variance is disruptive. You have a variant, Delta, you have set back and then New York City got really busy again. Then Omicron happened. It's very contagious, but knock on wood, largely seen. It's been fairly mild, but it's very contagious. It will cause a different type of disruption. There is better distribution of the vaccine and people are recovering. So, there will be a bounce back from there.
We shouldn't be surprised if there are more disruptions, but over time, the world will continue to adjust. What does it mean when you continue to have variants and how does science and medicine improve to deal with that? We're not worried about New York City long term, we think it'll be a top tourist destination. It has so much to offer. But a lot of this is disruptive in the short-term. We do think that international travel will come back. A notable point is when the Biden administration announced in early November that the U.S. borders were reopened to international travelers that are vaccinated. We did see a pickup. That's a very good sign. Prior to that, all of the recovery was driven by domestic tourists. You could see, people really want to get out there. New York is very much on the map, but we have to get through this period of disruption.