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9/11 Tours | Still Big Tourism Business

NEW YORK: The 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that struck the United States represents a significant occasion for people to pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day.

But even before the Saturday anniversary, large numbers of travelers have been taking the time through tours to learn about the people as well as the places affected by the events of that fateful day. Tours commemorating September 11 even outside New York City serve as major attractions for those from afar as well as big business.

“In general, about 40 percent of our visitors have been international,” said Jennifer Webb, the CEO of the 9/11 Tribute Museum, which has welcomed more than five million visitors since opening in 2006.

The museum conducts tours taking guests to sites associated with the day, such as the Fire Department of New York Firefighters Memorial Wall and the 9/11 Memorial. Those tours have attracted on average roughly 300,000 guests annually, and Webb added that the museum typically sees a boost in visitor numbers around the anniversary although this year’s figure will be smaller than in pre-Covid years.

September 11 is undoubtedly a powerful day for those involved in tours connected to the day.  “It’s an event that stopped the world,” said Andrew Luan, the CEO of ExperienceFirst, the parent brand of several New York City walking tour companies, including 9/11 Ground Zero Tours. Its most popular offering connected to September 11 features featuring a 90-minute guided tour of Ground Zero and admission to the One World Observatory at Freedom Tower.

September 11 is particularly emotional for Luan as his sister had to evacuate her school a few blocks away from Ground Zero that morning. It’s also enormously emotional for the guides on the 9/11 Ground Zero Tours, several of whom have provided firsthand accounts of that day on the company’s website. They are all New Yorkers with a personal connection to the day’s events.

“Personal stories are the most powerful,” Luan said about the connection guides have to September 11. “[They are] authentic and detailed.”

“For some guides, it can be therapeutic to give these tours. For other guides, it can be painful. We wanted to provide tours where our guides are experts or have a personal connection to the subject matter.”

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