After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, New York City lost $323.7 million in tourism revenue as visitors avoided the city in fear of another attack. And though tourism to New York City today is higher than it’s ever been, it took several years to rebound.
The attacks seemed to target tourists and civilians, with the bombings taking place at the Marathon finish line—right near several major hotels, including the Lenox Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The Lenox Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel were evacuated, and while the Lenox has re-opened, the Mandarin still remains closed as of last night.
“The [Mandarin] hotel management team is working closely with the local authorities on when the hotel can re-open, and we will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available,” said Molly Kinsella, the Public Relations Manager for the Mandarin Oriental Boston.
Since then, hotels around Boston — and major U.S. cities — have increased security.
Marriott released a statement saying that they are monitoring the situation closely and “enhanced security measures at our nearby hotels.” There are eight Marriott hotels and a Ritz-Carlton in Boston.
Similarly, Hilton Worldwide also released a statement saying that they’ve upped security at area hotels, and the Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel said it had increased security measures as well, according to USA Today.
While some streets and sections of Boston still remained closed, most airlines and trains resumed normal service. Even though Boston’s Logan Airport was open, many airlines waived fees and several major hotel chains, including Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, will allow travellers to cancel reservations without a penalty, according to USA Today.
While it’s still a bit too early to tell, these waivers hint that people may be changing their travel plans and cancelling trips to Boston. Some schools have already canceled field trips to Boston, and people have expressed concern about upcoming trips to Boston on TripAdvisor travel forums.
However, rather than deterring travellers, some argue that the attacks bring the entire country together and foster a sense of sympathy for Boston.
“If you were on Facebook or Twitter after the bombing you’ll know that hand-in-hand with the anger and outrage at the act was almost universal sympathy for Boston,” said Jason Clampet, co-founder of Skift, a travel intelligence media company. “Even in New York, which isn’t really so fond of Boston, an art installation in Brooklyn combined the ‘I love NY’ logo with the Red Sox logo to show support.”
Bostonians, too, who are still reeling from the attacks, seem to be eager to welcome visitors and show pride in their city.
“We Bostonians are hardy stock,” a commenter wrote on a TripAdvisor forum. “Anyone who is planning a trip here should come as planned and know that they will be welcomed with open arms. The city is safe and open for business for the most part, certainly 100% by another few days or so.”
Marie Morris, a local freelance writer who wrote Frommer’s Boston, said that though it’s still too early to speculate about the motivation or ultimate impact of the attacks, she doesn’t think that they will hurt tourism to Boston in the long run.
“If violence and the possibility of terrorism were to dissuade travellers from visiting Boston, that would violate the very spirit of the city and of the independent-minded area it’s the unofficial capital of,” Morris said. “New Englanders really, really don’t like being told what they can and can’t do (see, for example, everything from the great Puritan migration to marriage equality). Regardless of what the investigation into [Monday]’s events turns up, I very much doubt that the violence will lead directly to a downturn in local and regional tourism.”
Indeed, it seems that the city is eager to get back to business as usual. On Tuesday, two major Boston museums — The Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston —waived their admission fees and opened their doors to the public.
The MFA will be free today. We hope the Museum will be a place of respite for our community.
— Museum of Fine Arts (@mfaboston) April 16, 2013
Many Boston restaurants and bars are open for business, and some restaurants even offered free food and Wi-Fi to the public following the attacks.
While the city is definitely still recovering, there’s hope that life will return to normal soon. And unlike other regions that have undergone tragic events — say, New Jersey post-Hurricane Sandy, New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, or New York City post-9/11 — the city of Boston is still mostly physically intact.
“After the crime scene is cleared life will go on, as much as it can there following such a terrible accident,” Clampet said. “And when families sit down to plan a summer vacation they’re going to have Boston top of mind and little is going to stand in their way from visiting.”
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