Boston tourism might not be back to normal for months, mayor says

BOSTON — Chef Sarah Wade just opened Stillwater in downtown Boston seven months ago and was looking forward to the busy tourism season that COVID-19 has now taken out.

“We went from having a busy restaurant gearing up for Saint Patrick‘s day to a takeout business putting food in containers with no guest,” said Wade.

This week especially would’ve brought a lot of tourists downtown. “It’s sad not to see everybody running around in their marathon jackets,” she said.

Boston’s tourism season should be in full bloom, but that’s obviously not happening this year. In fact, Mayor Marty Walsh says don’t expect to see tourism back in full swing for months, even a year, after the city reopens.

“Today would’ve been a day that Faneuil Hall would’ve been loaded with marathon Jackets. People generally come in for the marathon from all over the world,” said Walsh. “They come to the city they spend a week here they spend a lot of money. They buy gifts, they buy stuff and they go back home and stay in our hotels.”

“If you look at just the Boston area and a little bit outside of Boston we already have close to 50 hotels that have closed temporarily and had to furlough their teams,” said Paul Sacco, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Lodging Association. “We’ve already lost through this December 50 conventions. As we look further out that would only continue and the potential just in this year is 90 major events that will have had to cancel. So if you combine that with everything else going on with the travel and tourism point of you it’s going to be quite devastating.”

Since there won’t be tourists any time soon, at this point, all we can do is support each other.

“It’s interesting that for a while Boston will just be Boston and there won’t be any tourists, it’ll just be us and our neighbors here,” said Wade. “So maybe people will go out and try some of the restaurants they used to shy away from because of all the tourists at certain times.”

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