Tom Harris is president at the Times Square Alliance, a Business Improvement District that works to improve and promote Times Square. He oversees the Alliance’s operations and a staff of 120 employees. Before 2008, Tom spent 23 years at the New York Police Department, rising from patrolman to inspector. He has a degree in Social Sciences from St. Joseph’s College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Marist College. He is also a board member for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and NYC & Company.
What do you wish more people understood about the tourism and hospitality industry?
In the last 20 years, tourism has become significantly more important for the NYC economy and is now the fourth-largest employer in the city. In Times Square, one out of every three jobs is in the tourism and hospitality industries and 81% of Times Square employees live in the outer boroughs.
How is the industry recovering after the pandemic?
We are leaps and bounds from the last two years and are continuing in a positive trajectory. In April, pedestrian counts averaged 286,032 people/day, up 113.8% from 2021 and 785.4% from 2020. March hotel occupancy averaged at 69.5% and had an average daily rate of $197. Times Square hotel occupancy increased by 17% from February 2022, and 34% from February 2020.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve ever taken, or the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten?
New Year’s Eve in Times Square has been the most memorable experience for me, especially last year when we were able to safely host the in-person celebration for the first time since 2020. Celebrating the end of the year and welcoming in the new year with my family and my work family is the best of both worlds. It is a magical moment of reflection, joy, and optimism.
What is one tourist destination that all visitors should add to their itinerary?
I invite all visitors to walk through our Times Square’s pedestrian plazas on Broadway from 41st Street to 53rd Street. It is the best way to experience the bright lights of Times Square and people watch with a front row seat on the iconic Red Steps. The Alliance also produces a slate of free public programming spanning from live music, dance tutorials, and more for everyone to enjoy.