“We welcome them back with open arms,” Cohen said after the U.S. began allowing vaccinated international travelers into the country this month. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

David Cohen has been yearning for a return to the days when business boomed at his family’s souvenir shop in Times Square, AP reports.

While tourists have begun returning, foot traffic into Grand Slam souvenirs is still not what it was before the coronavirus pandemic, when hordes of global visitors crowded under the canopy of electric billboards just outside his door.

But the return of foreign tourists to a place popularly called the crossroads of the world may help hasten recovery for businesses like his — many of them mom-and-pop shops — that collectively employ thousands of people and serve as one of New York City’s most important economic engines.

“We welcome them back with open arms,” Cohen said after the U.S. began allowing vaccinated international travelers into the country this month. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

Times Square has long stood as an emblem of New York’s hustle and bustle. But as Broadway theaters shut their doors and the city became an early epicenter of the global pandemic, 9 in 10 businesses in the area closed, according to a district civic group, The Times Square Alliance.

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