New York City is Candyland?

To the European tourists in New York City, don’t be alarmed by the green-eyed ghouls scowling from boutique counters or chattering along the sidewalk cafes, for these creatures are harmless, mostly, just be sure to conceal your Bergdorf Goodman shopping bags.

Earlier this month The International Herald Tribune (a global edition of the NY Times) ran a piece on New York’s green-eyed monsters, which have nothing to do with conservation or radioactivity, but rather the growing state of envy New Yorkers have begun to harbor in light of the recession. 

As many of us cling to our dollars and take vacations in our backyards, Europeans continue with their travel plans, at the strength of their currency, eating and shopping the way many of us this summer can only hope for the next one.

For some New Yorkers jealousy has brought them into a tale of keeping up with the Johnsons.

An executive assistant told the Tribune that she had begun moonlighting as a dog-walker just to be able “to see friends from abroad, who are dining at the chic and expensive WD-50 or Suba, or drinking at Thor.”

“These foreign friends ‘come over and play in New York like it’s Candyland,’ she said in an e-mail message. Still, she said she tried to keep it in perspective. Last year, she went to Vietnam and enjoyed evenings of fine dining for 10 people at less than $20 a person, where, she said, ‘I felt like I was in my own Candyland.’ “

Despite the local ambivalence, city officials and business owners welcome the Candlyand motif, with the realization that tourist spending has staved off complete disaster in a declining economy.

Buddakan, Stephen Starr’s epic pan-Asian restaurant, reports an increase from 20 percent to 30 percent in foreign traffic.  He told the Tribune:

“It’s a wonderful thing that in a tough climate economically, you sort of have this insurance policy of foreign money.  And to be honest with you, it’s great to be in a restaurant and to hear so many different languages. It adds to the theater of the experience.”

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