New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a $5 million international ad campaign for tourism to kick start local economy despite many travelers not being allowed to enter.
The advertisement was previewed at a press conference on Wednesday and shows views of maskless people enjoying the Big Apple at some of its most iconic sites.
Travelers from countries across the world are still barred entry into the United States including the 26 countries in the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines last updated in April.
During the wide ranging press conference, Cuomo also addressed New York City’s mayoral race, rising crime, and the state’s controversial bail reform law.
The first phase of the advertisement campaign, which costs $5 million, is being run by Empire State Development – the umbrella organization for New York’s principal economic development public-benefit corporations.
The ad was previewed at a press conference on Wednesday and shows views of maskless people enjoying the Big Apple at some of its most iconic sites
Tourism is a massive industry in New York, and not just for New York City. In 2019, New York saw 265 million visitors with $73.6 billion in revenue from direct spending and a total $117.6 billion in overall economic impact
The first phase of the advertisement campaign, which costs $5 million, is being run by Empire State Development
The press conference played a version of the ad that will run in downstate New York, the lower region of New York State which includes New York City, Long Island, and the counties in the lower and middle Hudson Valley regions.
‘We’re starting an international ad campaign for tourism, New York is back and New York is the best and we want people to be a part of it,’ Cuomo said during the press conference on Wednesday.
He also said during the press conference that the pandemic ‘is over’ while predicting a ‘tremendous burst of energy’ as people resume their daily lives.
‘We want people coming to New York and we want them to know they are welcome, and we want them to come make us the venue for their reentry into living and thriving and enjoying once again,’ Cuomo said.
‘Our message is: to domestic and international tourists, this is the place you want to visit. This is the one state where whatever you want to do, you can do it in this great state of New York.’
Cuomo also attempted to persuade New Yorkers to vacation within their own state this summer instead of traveling elsewhere, boasting about the Empire State’s low COVID-19 positivity rates.
‘To New Yorkers, you’re planning your summer vacation, forget traveling. Forget getting on a plane, going to Europe where you still have COVID infection rates at a much higher rate than the United States,’ Cuomo said.
‘Stay in New York – this state has anything you could possibly want to do. Vacationing in New York is smart ant it is safe you know this state is responsible when it comes to handling COVID.’
Tourism is a massive industry in New York, and not just for New York City. In 2019, New York saw 265 million visitors with $73.6 billion in revenue from direct spending and a total $117.6 billion in overall economic impact.
‘Tourism is also a big business for our bottom line,’ Cuomo said. ‘So our message is simple, its time to reenter society, its time to reopen, its time to reimagine.’
Cuomo added that ‘New York City really needs a good mayor,’ in a dig at his long-time rival and fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio
Andrew Cuomo is seen on a call in March, as the allegations against him piled up. His brother took part in strategy calls and urged him not to give into ‘cancel culture’
Cuomo also praised tourist destinations like the Radio City Music Hall which have decided to open at 100 percent capacity for people who are fully vaccinated.
‘If you have vaccinated people come into the venue, it helps you sell tickets because when you can tell everyone don’t worry, the person you’re sitting next to is going to be vaccinated so you know they’re not carrying the viruses,’ Cuomo said.
‘Secondly, by reopening rules, when people are vaccinated you can sit them one next another.’
He added: ‘The vaccination card that you get, this opens doors and allows you participate in life in a way that you are going to want to do.’
Cuomo also praised the New York Mets for announcing that, at their home games, 90 percent of the seats will go to vaccinated people.
‘You are going to see a surge of consumer activity and a surge of social activity. We want it to happen here. We want to capitalize on this moment. We don’t want to just reopen society to where we were a year ago,’ he said.
Cuomo said that crime in New York City ‘is a major problem’ that the state will have to overcome in its quest to attract tourism vital for reviving the economy.
‘The number one economic development priority is public safety,’ Cuomo said.
He added later in the press conference: ‘Crime is a problem. The number of homeless on the street is a problem. … The stories in the paper about crime can be a real impediment.’
He speculated that rising crime rates in New York are caused, in part, by the ‘relationship issue between the police and the community.’
‘Members of the police will say that they can’t do their job in this environment. Members of the community will say that they have issues of trust with the police. That is the relationship you have to resolve,’ Cuomo said.
Cuomo said that New York City voters should ask the mayoral candidates what they would do about crime ‘specifically’ and ‘not just that it’s a problem and we have to address it.’
‘Tell me what you would do. How many police would you put in then subways? Do you believe we need more police on the subways? At one point, we had an NYPD person on every train on the system. Would you do that again?’ Cuomo said.
He added: ‘How do you restore the relationship where the police feel empowered to do their job and that they can do their job without being attacked?’
The governor also said he would be open to a ‘discussion’ about the state’s controversial bail reform law which passed in 2019, though some of the reforms were rolled back last June.
The law had eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges – which critics argued led to increases of crimes like gun violence.
It was amended to allow judges to set bail for more types of crimes and the discretion to set bail for a defendant based on their legal history.
Some, like the Center for Court Innovation, have argued that the impact of the sweeping bail restrictions ‘significantly diminished’ in 2020 as ‘judges reverted to setting bail more often’ leading to a ‘steady, months-long rise in the number of people in jail awaiting trial.’
‘If New York City said, look we think the bail reform is a problem, that would obviously be a major discussion,’ Cuomo said.
‘I’m open to doing whatever we need to do to facilitate New York City’s addressing the crime problem. But New York City has to address the crime problem you know, it is a city responsibility.’
Cuomo added that ‘New York City really needs a good mayor,’ in a dig at his long-time rival and fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio – who the governor has verbally sparred with since long before their disagreements on how to handle the pandemic.
‘We need to see real leadership in the city, and we need to see competence in a mayor, and we need it desperately,’ Cuomo said.
‘You talk about all these issues, crime, that’s about leadership. That’s about restoring trust with members of the community in New York City.’
He added: ‘So this mayor matters, and we need someone who both can communicate with the people of the city and bring the people of the city together and get things done. You need a level of competence that doesn’t currently exist, and a level of credibility.’
Cuomo is facing a number of scandals, including revelations that his administration started tracking COVID-19 related nursing home resident deaths as early as last April, but the complete data was left out of a health department report three months later,
The state Health Department sent a memo to nursing homes and adult care facilities on April 18, 2020, directing them to report the number of residents who died from COVID-19 whether they died in the facility or not, the New York Post reports.
But 11 weeks later, the Health Department released a report on July 6 that excluded residents who did not die in a nursing home – appearing to under report the nursing home death toll by more than 8,000.
A March 25, 2020 order from the Cuomo administration that nursing homes accept COVID-positive residents returning from hospitals has been blamed for a spike in nursing home deaths.
But the July report found that the March 25 directive did not have a ‘causal link’ to the number of reported nursing home deaths.
The April memo, which was obtained by the New York Post, ordered nursing home administrators to tally the daily number of residents who died of COVID-19 whether the death occurred in their ‘facility or the hospital setting’.
The Health Department’s report only included deaths that happened in the facilities – which critics claim misrepresented the effect of the pandemic on nursing homes and the state’s handling of the crisis.
The Health Department received information daily from the Hospital Emergency Response Data System, an application on the agency’s health commerce system, a spokesperson for the agency told the New York Post.
That data included information from ‘more than 1,000 long term care facilities and more than 200 hospitals since the start of this pandemic,’ spokesman Gary Holmes said in April.
‘In April 2020 we asked for additional information to provide a more specific clinical picture, and as part of that correspondence we asked all facilities to provide that same level of information retrospectively to March 1,’ Holmes said.
Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor to Governor Cuomo, admitted in a March statement that the data about nursing home resident deaths outside of the nursing homes was omitted.
Cuomo is also facing at least nine allegations of sexual assault or misconduct, including by former state employees.
When asked if he’s paying of his own legal fees to handle the allegations with his personal money or campaign money, Cuomo said ‘not at this time.’
‘Executive chamber has retained a counsel and that is a state expense, it has been in every investigation, so that’s where we are now,’ Cuomo said.
The women who’ve accused Gov Andrew Cuomo of harassment
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Former aide Lindsay Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in a Medium post on February 24. She claimed that the governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017.
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Charlotte Bennett, 25, came forward a few days after Boylan and claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed her last June while she was working as a health policy adviser in his administration at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
Bennett accused Cuomo of ‘grooming’ her and asking inappropriate questions about her sex life.
She also claimed that he told her he was open to dating women in their 20s.
BENNETT said the governor asked her about her love life – including whether she ever had sex with older men – and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn’t matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22.
During a meeting alone in his office, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said.
She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo’s chief of staff and was transferred to another job.
She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn´t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Anna Ruch, 33
Anna Ruch was the third woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and the only one thus far who did not work with him in a professional capacity. She claimed that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan.
Anna Ruch, 33
Ana Liss, 35
Ana Liss, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including ‘blondie,’ ‘sweetheart’ and ‘honey.’
At a reception, the governor hugged her then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said.
She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was ‘not claiming sexual harassment per se,’ but felt the administration ‘wasn’t a safe space for young women to work.’
Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.
Ana Liss, 35
Karen Hinton, 62
The oldest allegations against Cuomo came from Karen Hinton, who served as a press aide for him when he led the US Department of Housing and Urban Development two decades ago and she was a consultant for the agency. Hinton told the Washington Post about a 2000 incident when she said Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event. She said she tried to pull away from Cuomo when he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room.
Karen Hinton, 62
Unnamed sixth accuser
The most damning allegations leveled against Cuomo to date came from a sixth accuser, whose name has not been released.
The accuser, who is a member of Cuomo’s staff, alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor’s mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany.
It first reported on her accusation last month; she then gave more detail in her first interview on the matter, published Wednesday.
The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor´s circle, the Times Union reported.
The woman, an executive assistant, told the Times Union the governor gave her kisses on the cheek and inappropriately tight hugs for years and made remarks including, ‘If you were single, the things that I would do to you’ and ‘I’m single and ready to mingle.’
Then, one day in November, she was summoned to his Executive Mansion office to help him with a cellphone problem, she said.
He got up from his desk, started groping her and told her ‘I don’t care’ after she tried to deflect him by saying he was going to get them into trouble, and then he slammed the door, she said.
Then he reached under her blouse and clutched one of her breasts over her bra, she told the newspaper.
The woman told a colleague this winter about the alleged encounter, and the co-worker told a supervisor in early March, according to the newspaper.
Cuomo called the report ‘gut-wrenching’ in a March statement and said: ‘I have never done anything like this.’
Another female aide, who has remained anonymous, claimed he called her to his Executive Mansion last year, reached under her blouse and fondled her
Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occasions since the start of her journalism career in 2012.
Bakeman added her voice as the seventh accuser as she detailed inappropriate touching by the governor as he continued to deny all of the claims.
‘He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go,’ Bakeman wrote of an interaction with Cuomo as she said goodnight at a holiday party in 2014 when she was only 25 years old.
‘He put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture.’
At the time Bakeman had been working for what is now Politico New York and claimed that red flags went up as her ‘job was to analyze and scrutinize him’.
‘I didn’t want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face,’ she wrote.
Jessica Bakeman, a reporter who once covered the Cuomo administration, was the seventh woman to come forward with claims of harassment
‘But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country.’
In an earlier 2012 incident while she was working for USA Today, Bakeman also claims that Cuomo kept her pinned to his side as he told a story to her male colleagues.
‘He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story,’ she said. ‘I stood there, my cheeks hot, giggling nervously as my male colleagues did the same. We all knew it was wrong, but we did nothing.’
The reporter, who now works in Florida, claimed that Cuomo ‘never let me forget I was a woman’ as she also alleged that he made frequent attempts to humiliate her, including calling out her purple phone instead of answering her question during a press gaggle.
Alyssa McGrath, 33
McGrath, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo’s office, told The New York Times that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.
McGrath didn’t say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment.
She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party.
Alyssa McGrath (pictured) is one of two aides who have come forward to accuse the governor of harassment
Sherry Vill, 55
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct during a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred on Monday.
She alleges Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her ‘aggressively and in a sexual manner’ on both cheeks in May 2017 while he was touring her home in Greece, near Rochester, as he inspected local flood damage.
Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek and her attorney held up multiple photos showing the Governor inside her home.
The same photos appear on Cuomo’s Flickr account, as well as multiple others that show him kissing and greeting residents as he toured the town.
None of the women in the other photos have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing.
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct on Monday. Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek