A throng of holiday shoppers and visitors waited for a light to change on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center earlier this month. Photo: Andy Atzert, via flickr
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that 2016 will set a record for the number of visitors to New York City. Despite lowering an original year-end prediction from 59.7 million to 58.5 million tourists, the mayor’s office revised the estimated final number to 60.3 million. “More tourism means we have more people investing in New York City and are able to create more sustainable jobs for more people. New York is a culturally rich and diverse city, with so much to offer those who visit,” de Blasio said in a statement. About 47.6 million of this year’s visitors came from within the country.
This marks the seventh year in a row that visitors to the city increased. The mayor’s office put the total number of jobs supported by the tourism industry at 375,000. Hotel room sales reached a record high of 34.9 million across the city’s 111,000 hotel rooms. Another 24,000 rooms are set to be added in 2017. Hotel and sales taxes contribute an estimated $1 billion to the local economy, the mayor’s office said.
Some of the most popular city-sponsored consumer attractions include NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Off-Broadway Week, which generally take place between January and March each year. NYC and Company, the city’s marketing office and sponsor of these programs, announced in conjunction with the revised tourism estimate that it is launching a new NYC Attractions Week from Jan. 17-Feb. 5 during which participants can receive 2-for-1 admission to places such as the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and One World Observatory. “The appeal of the ‘New’ New York alongside our classic attractions continues to draw travelers from every corner of the globe,” Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC and Company, said in the statement.
Despite the economic stimulation brought by visitors, some are sure to greet the numbers with trepidation. Streets and sidewalks are more crowded than ever, especially in Lower Manhattan. Street vendors -- another popular tourist destination -- continue to fight for more licenses and opportunities over the objections of local community boards that say they are adding to sidewalk congestion. Early estimates predict that 61.8 million visitors will take advantage of all New York City has to offer in 2017.
Madeleine Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org