Here's a final 2020 roundup of GANYC members getting news coverage:
1. GANYC member Ibrahima Diallo is quoted in this CNBC article on virtual tours around the world helping people safely explore from home this year:
Live virtual tours let travelers see the world from home this Christmas
GANYC is proud at how its members adapted this year to still shine as the best guides in NYC, in-person or online. GANYC will continue to lead the way to represent NYC over the next year.
2. GANYC member Mark Levy called in to the Brian Lehrer Show, on WNYC, to speak about the plight of tour guides in a segment about the many small businesses lost during the COVID crisis.
Remembering Businesses Lost to COVID
Here's a final 2020 roundup of GANYC members getting news coverage:
Several more GANYC members have been featured in the news recently!
1. Tommy Wilkinson keeps the spirit of the the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral going downtown, just north of Little Italy. Tommy operates tours of this historic site, still an active church, and its unique catacombs. Currents News spoke with Tommy about these catacombs, his tours of them, and his relationship with the church.
2. Finally, historian and guide Kevin Fitzpatrick, also heads the Dorothy Parker Society. He is quoted in this NY Post article about the new Dorothy Parker-branded apartment tower that was built on the site of her now-torn-down childhood home. “The mission of the Dorothy Parker Society is to keep people talking about her, so in that way, Parker West fits right into what we’re trying to do,” Fitzpatrick said.
3. Jared Goldstein has made news all the way across the world! The Japanese paper Asahi Shimbum covered Jared's John Lennon tour, on the 40th anniversary of Lennon's tragic murder in front of his home at the historic Dakota apartment complex. Thank you Jared for representing the NYC guiding community to our Japanese friends! A Google Translate version of the article can be accessed directly here.
GANYC member Sibyl McCormac Groff is interviewed in this NY Times article about the ice skating season this year at Rockfeller Center.
Besides being a longtime Rockefeller Center historian & tour guide, she is also the author of "A New York Christmas — Hohoho at Gothamtide". She is GANYC's foremost Christmas elf! While she will not be leading her usual Christmas tours this season, she is keeping the spirit alive on her website and social media.
GANYC is very proud that our President is featured in this industry spotlight by TripSchool!
By now, many in the NYC tourism sector have seen this NY Times article making the rounds:
"Tourism, Engine for N.Y.C. Economy, May Not Fully Recover Until 2025"
This article is causing a lot of panic in the NYC tourism world, and only time will tell whether that it is warranted or not. The news took the joy for many out of a week that also saw several promising vaccine candidates releasing encouraging numbers.
To clarify, the word "fully" in the headline carries a lot of weight, and was ignored by some. The officials interviewed by the Times speculate that it will take years for tourism to get back to its full pre-pandemic levels, which was 67+ million visitors in 2019 and an industry that was generating $70 billion in economic activity (see the NYC & Co report/trend outlook that led to this article). And yes, it will most likely take a few years to get back to those highs. But the article also takes a worse-case scenario and presents it as the most likely. If the city and tourism officials work together, that recovery can, and will, begin later next year.
We went from tens of millions of visitors to almost none between the end of last year and the beginning of this past Spring. The recovery will not go back up from 0 to 60 quite so rapidly. But it will also not take 4 years for tourists to return.
New York remains one of the most desirable travel destinations on the planet. Even during a pandemic, with health & safety guidelines in place across the state, the city has received visitors. Given the number of people I kept seeing all over Manhattan this past month visiting from outside the state (and some seemingly from outside the country?), it's clear the demand has not disappeared one bit.
Next year we fully understand will be a year largely of transition and recovery (see the most recent GANYC Virgil issue for my thoughts on the vaccine timeline and the road back to "normal"). But once it is deemed safe to truly travel again, and when borders reopen, visitors will begin to flock here. The city should begin thinking ahead to this now. GANYC sure is.
GANYC has hundreds of professional guides in its membership, and we will continue to keep preparing, and adapting, for the recovery.
GANYC continues to promote its Health & Safety Guidelines for touring, and will continue to adapt all around as the situation here in New York changes over these next painful months.
In the meantime, of course, we will continue our focus through the Spring on local area travelers and explorers through our Tour Your Own City initiative. On the tours I have given these past few months, I have heard from many locals have soul-refreshing it was to get out and explore, and how much they regret not exploring the hidden gems of their own city sooner. It reminded me, in fact, of why I wanted to become a guide in the first place... to enable those experiences. I believe the Tour Your Own City model will therefore remain viable moving forward, and GANYC will continue to showcase the fun & diverse roster of offerings our guides have created.
We urge all city and tourism officials to contact GANYC about coordinating efforts for next year. GANYC intends to lead on this recovery, and we are happy to work with anyone else who is too.
We love when GANYC members are spotlighted in the media, and here are some recent examples:
1. The Red Hook Star-Revue has just published an article in their November 2020 issue, about our Tour Your Own City site/initiative, and how NYC guides are your best tool to uncovering the hidden gems of New York City. The author attended a tour by member Jeremy Wilcox, and also spoke with member Maggie Browne, and VP Michael Morgenthal about their unique tours. In addition the link before, but here are scans from the physical paper:
2. Kevin Fitzpatrick has had several articles written about him lately! Not shocking for a member who is himself an award-winning author.
Kevin is also the founder of the Dorothy Parker Society, dedicated to the life and legacy of the famous American poet, writer, critic, and satirist. This past August, he was selected by Parker's family to represent them as, after years of trying, he brought back Parker's cremated remains to NYC from Baltimore. He then helped bury Parker's remains next to her parents in the Bronx's Woodlawn Cemetery. This saga was covered by the New Yorker magazine she helped found. Here is that article:
"The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes"
(he was also interviewed about this by WFUV)
Kevin was also just featured in the NY Daily News for the tours he offers around Veterans Day to honor those buried in New York who served their country in the armed forces. This year, he is doing the tours inside historic Woodlawn Cemetery. Kevin is the author of, among other history books, 'World War I New York: A Guide to the City's Enduring Ties to the Great War'. The article can be read here:
"Visiting heroes: A Veteran’s Day walking tour through Woodlawn Cemetery"
3. Dave Gardner publishes our quarterly printed newsletter, Guidelines. But he is also the NYC guiding world's foremost expert on all things Titanic. In the November/December 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, they cover the Titanic buffs who follow the history, and even collect memorabilia and artifacts. The article speaks to Dave about his relationship with the Titanic's history and legacy, and the tours he does about it. You can read it here:
4. Jane Marx is featured in an article in the latest issue of Fine Art Connoisseur. You can see the article below, but there is a transcript here.
Groups Today, the community for group travel professionals, has published its Readers’ Choice Awards for Tenacity in Travel 2020. GANYC is proud to announce that we are among the recipients. Guides Association Vice President Michael Morgenthal was honored for spearheading our Tour Your Own City initiative. We launched this project as part of our ongoing efforts to be at the forefront of the recovery of New York City's tourism industry over this coming year.
The text reads:
Seeing the Big Apple and Supporting Small Businesses
Guides Association of New York City
Since the COVID-19 pandemic halted tourists from coming to New York City and taking tours, Michael Morgenthal, Vice President and Chair of the Industry Relations Committee, Guides Association of New York City, developed a program to allow tour guides to promote the town.
Through the TourYourOwnCity.com portal, which lists some of the best tours in NYC, New York-area residents could easily find fun and informative tours to take and rediscover their own city.
By booking tours, groups are able get out and explore the Big Apple while also supporting small New York businesses—the tour operators, tour guides, and all the small businesses they regularly visit on tours—that took a direct hit as a result of COVID-19.
With travel likely being one of the last sectors of the economy to fully bounce back, Guides Association of New York City knew that area residents taking tours would be a lifeline for the thousands of working tour guides in NYC and the other small businesses they patronize.
Thank you to all who have supported Tour Your Own City, and please let all your friends & family know about it!
2020 has certainly been a year of escalations in many ways. In the Spring and early Summer, many publications were filled with a growing genre: the "New York is dead" story, almost always from the perspective of well-to-do Manhattanites who fled to their Summer homes in the Hamptons or Connecticut (most of whom will almost certainly be back). Many New Yorkers countered with great pieces on why they are staying, to live and work and fight in a city that is historically resilient.
Then today, the attacks on our city went way further when the President and the Department of Justice labeled us (and Seattle & Portland OR) as an "anarchist jurisdiction". At stake in this is not just the $7 billion in federal grants that the city receives each year(*), but the very perception among the American people of their nation's largest city and most-visited city amongst domestic travelers.
(*New York is amongst a handful of states which send more to the federal government in tax revenue than they receive back in spending)
This federal funding is crucial and provides needed support for everything from healthcare to transit to policing & counter-terrorism to affordable housing, and much more. Withholding it is an attack on the people of New York and a violation of the implicit promise made when we pay our federal taxes.
New York has seen many tragedies this year, primarily the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating loss of life it brought, the ensuing economic fallout, and its effects on families and schools. But while our city and state work to keep bringing that under control, we now face a direct assault on our city by our own federal government, specifically a President who is convinced that terrifying voters is the key to his re-election.
There were a number of things that factored into this. First, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May by police, protests sprung out in all 50 states, and have continued since. Secondly, NYC did see a noticeable spike beginning in the Spring of violent crimes across the city. Thirdly, there were many stories revolving around the city's growing homeless population exaggerated to frighten people.
Let's unpack all this.
First, in the immediate wake of Black Lives Matter protests, there were two consecutive nights (May 31 and June 1) where a mix of criminal gangs and opportunistic anarchists engaged in looting and vandalism while authorities were concentrated around the thousands and thousands of New Yorkers peacefully marching across the city. That tragedy was exploited first by police themselves looking to undermine the BLM movement, and then for months by cable news hosts recycling the same footage (a burned police vehicle, the looted stores) over and over again for similar propaganda purposes. Actively misleading about the dynamics of how this justice movement has played out since late May has been key to not only the efforts to undermine it, but also the effort to undermine American cities by a President who sees himself as only the leader of the areas which voted for him. Secondly, it is true that violent crime is up this year noticeably from the previous year or two (and it is true that every violent death is a tragedy that should have been prevented). But that spike occurs in the context of the fact that 2018 was the safest year on record in NYC history, with 2019 following suit. At the current pace, New York is on track to have crime rates... lower than any year during the Guiliani administration, and lower than all but two years of the Bloomberg administration. The picture being painted by many-- including our former Mayor-- is thoroughly misleading. Finally, it is telling that when the city moved to potentially expel the homeless from one prominent Upper West Side hotel, that residents rallied in solidarity with their homeless neighbors.
Because of all of this propaganda, millions of Americans have a false perception of New York today as a dangerous den of criminals and anarchists.
The reality of New York today of course must be seen in the context of a year framed by the most devastating global health & economic crisis in our lifetimes. But it is a city that has already begun a rebound on many fronts. First, on COVID, the state has had positivity rates at just 1% or lower for well over a month now. If this turnaround (and the policies that led to this) had been matched in other states, the country as a whole would be on much better footing right now. Secondly, we are carefully making our way through the phases of reopening. Museums and other cultural attractions are reopening (with new temporary restrictions, of course), the streets and parks of NYC are teeming with people and families happy to be reconnecting with friends and neighbors, and the city is working once again to reinvent itself.
Over the past several months, not only I have returned to touring (slow, but steady), but I've spent most of my free days traveling around my city.... by foot, subway, and occassionally ferry. I've visited numerous neighborhoods, enjoyed some outdoor dining, and spoken to many New Yorkers. I have seen a real city, not the caricature painted by the President, Justice Department, NY Post, Fox News, police unions, and countless internet trolls. And I see a great city filled with resilient, optimistic people working hard to overcome a tragic year.
There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, of course. And all that work will be undermined by efforts to rob the city of the billions of federal funding that it is due. The good people of New York deserve a government committed to sharing their faith in this city, not one working to actively undermine them with threats and propaganda.
(Scenes from around town in our 'anarchist jurisdiction' at the beginning of Autumn)
GANYC and its new Tour Your Own City initiative and website were featured in a NY1 segment this morning. We thank Spectrum News NY1 and Shannan Ferry for spotlighting our work to help this crucial industry recover.
Tour Your Own City was launched to help New York area residents fall in love with NYC all over again. With over 100 tours now available, we believe there is something for everyone. By booking a tour, you help small businesses recover, and have fun experiences that most New Yorkers usually take for granted.
NY1: Guides Association Launches Campaign to 'Tour Your Own City'