NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be open for visitors on Monday, with New York state picking up the tab for federal workers.
The two sites have been closed because of the federal government shutdown.
Cuomo says the sites are vital to the state’s tourism industry, so the state will spend about $65,000 per day for the federal employees who operate the sites. He says the revenue gained more than offsets the costs.
He says the state will pay for the duration of the shutdown, and the sites will be open every day.
“We worked out an arrangement where New York State will fund the federal employees who operate the Statue of Liberty so it will reopen tomorrow at state expense,” Cuomo said in a Sunday news conference.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, tourist from England Kimberly Stooke thought during the government shutdown, she would only be able to admire the Statue of Liberty from a distance.
But the breakthrough midday Sunday has saved her Monday plans to boat over and get inside.
“Tickets are booked,” Stoke said. “We are — me and my husband go at 1 o’clock tomorrow, me and my husband, for an anniversary. We get to go. You made my day.”
Keeping the landmarks open will cost the state an estimated $65,000 a day.
Critics who say the state cannot afford it are told to consider the loss of tourist dollars that the governor claims would be worse.
“From our point of view, it is a good investment, because the revenue we gain from the tourists is multiples of what it will cost to actually pay to open the Statue of Liberty,” Cuomo said.
Vendors who sell souvenirs say business is down because of the shutdown.
“There’s not as many people out here,” a vendor said. “They are not buying.”
Some owners of Boat Companies offering tours also told the governor’s office since the shutdown, their business declined about 70 percent.
But CBS2 spoke to some other tourists who say the timing for the reopening is off and it will not help them.
Some tourists from Holland missed their chance. They only had their Sunday set aside for Lady Liberty.
“We wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and we come here and it was closed,” said Andre Alders.
Some women from Orlando are heading home Monday and also missed out.
“But I am glad other tourists can go,” one of the women said.
The State is tapping money in its tourism budget. The deal required approval from the U.S. Interior Department, which happily gave a green light for the Green Lady to be back in business.
New York had the same arrangement in 2013, during the last government shutdown.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)