Business Leader: 'This Is Going To Be The Christmas Of 2012 That We Never Had'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Business owners and tourism officials joined Rep. Carolyn Maloney to discuss the economic impact of superstorm Sandy.

More than six weeks after the storm, some businesses that rely on the holiday season to boost revenues said this will not be a very merry Christmas for them.

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WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports

“This is going to be the Christmas of 2012 that we never had,” said Butch Yamali with the New York Caterers Association.

Yamali said many in the catering industry continue to struggle.

“Down 30 to 40 percent as far as catering and parties, Christmas and holiday parties,” he told reporters including WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “They have issues getting FEMA help, a lot of them didn’t have any flood insurance and they just can’t reopen.”

Coupled with the negative impact on some businesses, officials said more tourists are staying home as hotels are booked with displaced residents.

“The bottom line is that we’re only at the beginning of this process and our businesses desperately need help,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said. “The devastation in this area is deep and it is strong.”

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Maloney said small businesses are forecast to take a huge hit from Sandy.

“Some private economists have said the economic impact may be as much as $100 billion,” she said.

As businesses struggle to reopen, Yamali said the busy season is getting washed away.

“It hurts because this where you make your bottom line, holiday time. And we look forward to that every year. And now we don’t have that opportunity,” Yamali said.

President Obama sent Congress a $60 billion aid request for states ravaged by Sandy. That number, which would be shared by 11 impacted states, is less than what New York and New Jersey combined requested in federal aid.

The city’s tourism company said the industry has not suffered long-term negative effects from Sandy.

“The tourism industry rebounded quickly after Hurricane Sandy and the majority of hotels, cultural institutions, attractions and businesses across the five boroughs have re-opened. Preliminary findings from a survey of NYC & Company’s 2,000 members found that 84 percent of businesses are fully operational and 89 percent have been able to maintain full staffing,” George Fertitta, the CEO of NYC & Company said in a release.

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“There is still recovery work to be done in the mostly residential areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and in opening parts of Lower Manhattan, but we are fully on track to have another record breaking tourism year which supports 350,000 New York jobs,” the statement said.