Skift Take

Although foreign tourists only make up a small percentage of total visitors to New York City, the emerging outbound travel markets of China and Brazil are key to driving arrivals to these all-time highs.

It’s not your imagination that Fifth Avenue seems more crowded or that Times Square is even more dreadful to walk through: Tourism is at an all-time high in New York City, which is good or bad news depending on who you talk to.

NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism marketing agency, outlined the growth of the city’s tourism industry and its plans to make tourism an even more meaningful part of the economy at its annual meeting yesterday.

New York City’s tourism successes

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta trumpeted the the significant six-year growth of the city’s tourism industry, which was sparked by the 2006 merger of the city’s tourism organizations.

Below is the growth reported over the past six years:

  • A record 52 million visitors arrived in NYC in 2012, up 18.7 percent.
  • Eleven million foreign tourists visited in 2012, up 50 percent from 7.3 million.
  • Hotel development grew 30 percent from 71,000 to a record 93,000 rooms.
  • Seventy-two hotels, or 62,000 rooms opened in boroughs outside of Manhattan.
  • New York City’s share of overseas travel increased from 18 to 33 percent making it the most popular US destination for overseas travel.
  • Employment within the hospitality and leisure sector increased from 285,000 to 356,000 job, a 25 percent increase.

New York City’s tourism goals for 2015

Tourism is now the city’s fifth largest industry with visitors spending more than $36.9 billion in 2012, but that’s not big enough for the biggest city in the world.

Fertitta outlined the following goals to reach by 2015:

  • Increase the number of annual visitors to 55 million by 2015, a 3 million increase.
  • Increase tourism’s economy contribution to $70 billion, a $55.3 billion increase.

The meeting outlined a plan for achieving the above goals, which included legalizing privately-owned youth hostels, forming international city-to-city partnerships, and launching neighborhood initiatives that highlight the city’s lesser known, and gentrifying, areas.

Despite the economic benefits, influx of money, and job creation not all New Yorkers are pleased with these increases. It means streets, restaurants, and transportation are more crowded and, in some cases, more expensive.


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Tags: nyc, tourism

Photo credit: A tourist takes a self-portrait at the top of The Rock at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Dan Nguyen / Flickr

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