New York City is stepping up its enforcement of the illegal sale of Statue of Liberty boat tours a day after actor Alec Baldwin said he was duped into buying fake tickets for his family.
The crackdown will target sellers who illegally hawk tickets in lower Manhattan for boat tours that sail around Liberty Island but don’t stop there, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
The city also sent cease-and-desist letters Tuesday to Freedom Cruises and Sphinx Transport, tour operators that, according to the mayor’s office, operate without proper bus-stop permits for the area outside Battery Park. They take passengers from lower Manhattan to New Jersey via bus to board boats that travel around Liberty Island, said a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.
Representatives for Sphinx Transport and Freedom Cruises couldn’t be reached for comment. Tour company Statue Cruises is the only boat line allowed to ferry people to Liberty and Ellis islands. Its tickets are sold online or at the Battery.
But people working for other boat-tour companies also sell tickets near the Battery. Those ticket sellers can often give misleading pitches, omitting that they don’t stop at Liberty Island or telling customers that security lines at the island will take hours to get through, officials said.
“If they continue to ignore our enforcement efforts we will try and put them out of business,” Mr. Blasio said at a news conference Tuesday.
The city is planning to set up a new park kiosk to sell tickets and will maintain a heightened police presence, the mayor’s office said.
Mr. Baldwin, who lives in Manhattan, wrote on his Instagram account Monday that he was duped into buying tickets from an illegal seller, calling it a “scam.”
“We buy the tickets for the ‘boat tour’ of the Statue of Liberty,” he wrote. “We are escorted to a shuttle bus. To New Jersey!” He then told his followers to take the Staten Island Ferry, “the best ride in New York.” A spokeswoman for Mr. Baldwin declined to comment.
Other operators near Battery Park include Liberty Cruise, which sells tickets for boats that go around, but not to, Liberty Island. A spokesperson for the company said the renewed enforcement of rules is good for tourists and operators.
Laura Feyer, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said the city had been working on these changes for months but Mr. Baldwin’s experience highlighted the problem.
“Mr. Baldwin brought increased attention to the issue tourists and visitors face every day, and our agency partners are continuing to work together until this problem is a thing of the past,” Ms. Feyer said in a statement.
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