Hard times in New York as pandemic decimates small businesses

New York looks very different without its usual tourists
New York looks very different without its usual tourists Copyright Unsplash
By Sarah PalmerAFP
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Many Manhattan shopkeepers are having to rely on the kindness of strangers to stay afloat.


Small businesses in New York City are struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before 2020, New York City would see up to 60 million visitors every year. The iconic island of Manhattan was - and will undoubtedly resurrect itself as - a tourism hub.

But at the moment, residents who rely on the travel and tourism industry to pay their bills are weathering a seemingly ceaseless storm.

Souvenir shop manager Mukhtar Ahmed only stays afloat thanks to the kindness of his landlord. He has been unable to pay his rent since March.

“Since we locked down here, we tried to open businesses back up in June. But there’s no tourists,” says Ahmed. “This city, Manhattan, we survive on tourists. But the industry is totally, completely shut down.”

Even along the symbolic Fifth Avenue, stores are closed and boarded up as the pandemic keeps visitors at bay.

Overall, New York City tourism numbers have dropped by 66 per cent in 2020.

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