Gov. Kathy Hochul announced almost half a billion in state funds to boost the tourism industry and its workers recover from the Covid-19 pandemic on Monday.
The governor wants to provide as much as $450 million for the ailing sector as federal authorities have started allowing international visitors back into the United States if they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus on Nov. 8.
“Since day one, I’ve had one thought as your governor… I want to make New York fun again,” said Hochul during her announcement of the initiative at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “I want people to feel that vitality, that energy that all of us knew before the pandemic that we just embraced was part of our DNA.”
The package includes $100 million for tourism workers who have not been able to come back to their jobs or a full-time position, and who will be able to get a one-time payment of up to $2,700 to hold them over, according to Hochul.
“There are so many jobs that are still not back yet, and we cannot be blind to this any longer,” she said. “We cannot just say, ‘They’ll be back tomorrow, just keep holding on.’ People been holding on a long time since they lost their extended unemployment benefits back in September.”
Another $100 million in grants will go to businesses to incentivize them to rehire workers sooner, and for each staff member they bring back full-time for at least six months the companies can get $5,000.
There will also be a $25 million grant for convention centers and another $25 million for an international ad campaign promoting the Empire State.
The largest chunk of $200 million will be part of bill Hochul is introducing in the state legislature and will have to get the green light from lawmakers in Albany once they return to session in January.
This story first appeared on amNY.com.