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International Visitors Had Big Taste for Big Apple in 2009

January 4, 2010 By: Staff


Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta and co-owners of the Greenhouse Café, Bobby Daquara and John Keegan

The New Year may be underway, but New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber and NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta want the travel industry to remember one last thing about 2009— New York City was the most popular tourist destination in the U.S. by domestic and international travelers for the first time since 1990. The 45.25 million tourists exceeded projections, declining just 3.9 percent from 2008 versus the 10 percent expected. A 3.2 percent increase in tourism, with an estimated 46.7 million visitors, is expected in 2010.

Mayor Bloomberg also announced that employment in the leisure and hospitality sector has fully rebounded and surpassed pre-recession levels. New York City remains the most popular destination in the nation for international visitors with 8.6 million international tourists in 2009 – twice as many as the nearest competitor, Los Angeles.

"Over the past eight years, our efforts to make New York City an even more exciting place to visit have helped produce a record number of tourists and create thousands of jobs," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Last year, while tourism declined significantly in cities across the country, we fared far better than most. In fact, for the first time in 20 years, we were the most popular tourism destination in the country, surpassing Orlando, and our leisure and hospitality jobs rose – surpassing even their pre-recession levels. Despite these gains, we know many of our hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops are still struggling as a result of the downturn, but the jobs they have added serve as an important indication that our efforts are paying off and that 2010 promises to be a year of growth."

"We began 2009 facing a dismal forecast for the city's tourism industry,” said George Fertitta. "Our initial projections estimated a ten percent decrease, but we continued to invest and strategically promote New York City to domestic and international visitors as well as to New Yorkers. As a result, New York City saw a less than four percent decline in visitation, and still holds onto an ambitious goal of attracting 50 million visitors annually by 2012.  We expect that 2010 will be a year of recovery, and we will continue to find new ways to promote the City to all travelers."

New York City surpassed Orlando in total visitors in 2009 after finishing second in 2008. The City remains on track to achieve its goal of 50 million annual visitors by 2012 despite the effects of the global recession. The more than 45 million people who visited New York City last year spent approximately $28 billion. Every dollar of direct tourist spending translates into a total of $1.50 in economic activity for New York. New York City welcomed an estimated 36.7 million domestic visitors and 8.6 international visitors to the City in 2009. International tourists remain particularly important to the City’s economy because they spend nearly five times as much as their domestic counterparts.

Hotel demand remained very strong, with 23.6 million room nights sold – a new City record and 300,000 more than the previous year. Hotel occupancy rates during the final three months of 2009 were higher than they were during the same period in 2008 – generating roughly $315 million in hotel tax revenue for the year. More than 5,100 new and renovated rooms were added in 2009, bringing the city’s total inventory to more than 81,500 hotel rooms, an increase of 6 percent.

International airport arrivals, while down for the year, showed two consecutive months of increases in September and October, after 10 months of decreases. Non-commuter Amtrak arrivals showed positive growth in October for the first time since September, 2008, with 328,700 passengers during the month, November saw another increase over the previous year with 332,100 passengers. Season-to-date through November, Broadway revenues rose by $3 million in 2009, 0.6 percent increase.

To highlight New York City as an affordable destination in 2010, NYC & Company is kicking off its NYC: The Real Deal Winter promotion, giving visitors and residents access to more than 200 special offers throughout the five boroughs at hotels, attractions, museums, theaters, restaurants, shops and tours. Details of the program, which runs through February 28, can be accessed at

NYC & Company also launched the Signature Collection Third Night promotion at 15 city luxury hotels. The program gives visitors a complimentary third night at participating hotels after booking and paying for two consecutive nights through February 28.

NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2010 will run from January 25 through February 7, with the same prices charged since 2006. Costs will remain $24.07 for three-course prix-fixe lunches and $35 for three-course prix-fixe dinners (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2010 excludes Saturdays and restaurants have the option to offer the program on Sundays. Reservations open January 12th. To view participating restaurants and information, go to

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By Staff | January 4, 2010
Mayor Bloomberg announced that New York City was 2009's most popular U.S. tourist destination for the first time in nearly 20 years as leisure and hospitality jobs surpass pre-recession levels.
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