Friday,  September 18, 2020  7:03 pm

Private tour restrictions enacted at Liberty & Ellis islands

Private tour restrictions enacted at Liberty & Ellis islands
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

In a bid to stop overcrowding, the National Parks Service has issued a ban on tour guides at two of New York City's most popular tourist spots.

As of May 16, private commercial tour groups will no longer be welcome at the Liberty or Ellis islands, where the famous Statue of Liberty is located.

According to The New York Times, the ban will restrict private tour groups for certain areas on the islands, including the statue’s sixth-floor outdoor observation deck, the new Statue of Liberty Museum (which opens the day the ban comes into effect) and the National Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island.

It's important to note that commercial groups are still welcome to visit the island, but they won't be allowed at the three aforementioned places.

Why the ban?

According to the NYT, both attractions receive 4.5 million visitors a year and most of those are a direct result of tour companies. As with visitation to any mass tourism site, NPS has cited concerns about damage and waste left behind by tourists.

The Guides Association of New York City issued a press release, condemning the ban by NPS.

"The new rules will cost tour guides as much as $2 million in income and 100+ jobs in the first year they go into effect, and will negatively impact the visitor experience and the safety and security of all who visit these two visible, iconic landmarks. GANYC urges NPS to reconsider these new policies," a statement reads.

Tourism in New York is now New York State’s third largest employer, responsible for 938,800 jobs annually. Last year, the state welcomed a record-high 243.8 million visitors, who spent $67.6 billion, supporting a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the fourth straight year.

This year, NYC is gearing up for a monumental tourism year, following the opening of the brand new Hudson Yard's private real estate project on Manhattan’s west side, the debuting of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s expansion this summer (just in time for its 90th birthday), and the selected venue for World Pride. 

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