Heavily armed counter-terrorism units become new attraction in NYC's Times Square

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/10/7 9:52:27

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas in the US state of Nevada, the New York Police Department has dispatched additional counter-terrorism units to Times Square, one of the world's most visited tourist attractions.

The heavily armed cops soon became a new attraction at the Crossroads of the World and tourists from various countries began to line up to have their photos taken with the uniformed officers armed with long rifles and machine guns.

"They look so cool, I'd like to post the photo on my WeChat," a Chinese lady, who gave her name as Maggie, told Xinhua after posing for a photo with the four officers standing at the intersection of Broadway and West 46th street.

Maggie said she has little safety concern travelling in the United States though she was shocked and saddened to know at least 59 people were killed and about 500 injured in the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday.

Neeraj Mishra, 32, shared Maggie's sentiments talking about the worst gun violence in US history.

"For me, the US is still a safer country," said Mishra, who is from Punjab of India.

"We have to recover from the tragedy (in Las Vegas) and life has to go on," said Jeremy Haack, a resident of Chicago, the third-most populous city in the United States.

Haack, who is working for a medical device company, said it is necessary for big cities like New York City to beef up security as people on the streets have no way to protect themselves when acts of evil take place.

The number of violent crimes in the United States has actually fallen sharply over the past quarter century, Haack noted, though there are quite many reports of gun violence all over the country.

"I believe people acknowledge that those are random acts of violence," said Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination, in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.

The latest gun violence will not have much impact on the US travel industry, Thompson said.

"I don't think (the incident) would be a statement to whether the United States is any more or less safe," he said.

Calling Sunday night's massacre "horrific," Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, vowed that Vegas will pull together to "work through this tragic incident."

According to LVCVA's tourism statistics, Las Vegas hosted just under 43 million visitors in 2016 alone, and just over 28.5 million from January of 2017 through the end of August.

There were already signs that life was returning to normal in Las Vegas, the self-billed "Entertainment Capital of the World," according to local media reports.

The deadly mass shooting in the US city of Orlando that killed 49 people last year has not affected local tourism.

According to Visit Orlando, the official destination organization for Orlando, the city as a whole has seen a 3.3 percent increase in visitors so far this year, compared with 2016, while Orlando Central and South, near where the shooting took place, have seen 3.3 percent and 2.6 percent growth respectively.

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