Many New York City residents have previously sworn off ever going to tourism hot spots throughout the city, not wanting to deal with the slow-moving crowds often associated with areas like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty.
But now may actually be the perfect time to cross those places (the ones that have reopened, that is) off the list, before those crowds return as the city's badly hit tourism industry is slowly coming back to life.
With more and more places reopening across the five boroughs, visitors to the Big Apple have begun to trickle back once again. Obviously anything even remotely close to pre-pandemic levels won't be reached — as a record 66 million people came to visit the city in 2019 — but a few tourists have been seen in areas that back in March and April were completely barren.
A couple from California, who went sightseeing and visited Lady Liberty (on what is a nearly private boat ride), said there were benefits to visiting now, such as no lines for anything. And social distancing is not much of a problem.
Tourists from all over the world — Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Chile — were spotted in the city on Wednesday, even with international travel restrictions and 31 states on New York's quarantine list. But the pool of tourists is very limited, which is why NYC's tourism organization is encouraging locals to go "ALL IN," as the group's website says.
"This is one of the world's most aspirational destinations, and people come from all over the world," said Chris Heywood of NYC & Company. "Yet for New Yorkers, there's a treasure trove of activity right in their back yard."
Many of those treasures were buried during the pandemic and ensuing shutdown. But they're now reopening, and people's livelihoods depend on them coming back.
The group is hoping to get city residents to be some of the first to go back and visit NYC landmarks once again — safely, of course. They feature #SeeYourCity on their website, while also giving ways New Yorkers can support local restaurants, shops and other businesses, whether by visiting in person or online.
One thing that may surprise city folks who do venture out to tourism hot spots: they may find that the city doesn't quite feel the same without the tourists.
"It's kind of weird, I've been talking to a lot of people that just don't feel like they recognize their city," said Brooklyn resident Marianne Nome. "We actually miss the tourists in a way."