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As bedbugs creep out NYC, tourists crawl away

Published October 25, 2010 3:57 pm

Travel • City officials fear economic impact of the creepy crawlies.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New York • New York City's bedbugs have climbed from under the covers and marched into landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Bloomingdale's and Lincoln Center, causing fresh anxiety among tourists who are canceling Big Apple holiday season vacations.

Some travelers who had arranged trips to New York say they are creeped out about staying in hotels and visiting attractions as new reports of bedbugs pop up every few days. Officials in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration are concerned about the effect on the city's image and $30 billion tourism industry.

Discoveries of pests at high-profile places are often not full-blown infestations, or even in public areas. Bloomingdale's reported finding exactly one bug in the famous department store, the Empire State Building had them in the basement. Lincoln Center's were in a dressing room.



But those reports, along with bedbug discoveries in movie theaters, hotels and clothing stores, are causing skittish travelers to call off trips planned months ago.

Industry professionals — who have privately told city officials they are nervous about bedbugs hurting New York's reputation — say publicly they are not aware of bedbug-related cancellations. But several would-be tourists told The Associated Press they are aborting trips here, or considering it, because they fear the bloodsucking pests.

"It sounds like you can get them anywhere, any time of day and not know it until you get home," said Patty Majerik, from Baltimore. She may not travel to Manhattan next month with her children, ages 7 and 10, to shop, catch a Broadway show and see the Radio City Christmas show.

"I've got four people traveling on a train, in cabs, going to stores and theaters, and they [bedbugs] could be in any of these places? I hate to say it, but I doubt we're going," Majerik said.

Bloomberg said Monday he was concerned about the effect of bedbug hysteria on the city's reputation.

"You don't want anything that would dissuade people from coming here," he added. "Hopefully these things come and go, and this will go quickly."

Sightings of the rust-colored bugs, about the size of an apple seed, have surged in New York and around the nation in recent years. It is not known what caused their sudden spread, but experts have theorized that an increase in global travel and the banning of certain pesticides may be partly responsible.

Bedbugs are famously difficult to eradicate. They hide in more places than beds and can go a year without feeding. Bloomberg recently joked on David Letterman's "Late Show" that bedbugs "are probably tougher" than New York's notoriously hardy rats.

 

 

 

 

 

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