New York City attracted an estimated 47 million visitors and $30 billion in total spending in 2008, both record highs according to figures released by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and confirming the Big Apple as the projected number one tourist city of the United States.
The latest tourism numbers surpass the 46 million visitors and 28.9 billion USD New York City attracted in 2007. International tourism accounted for the increase, with an additional one million international visitors coming to the City in 2008, bringing the total to 9.8 million. This past year, NYC & Company, the City's marketing, tourism, and partnership organization, completed its planned global expansion to 25 international markets, launched domestic and international marketing campaigns, and opened new convention sales offices in California and Illinois. Last year, the City surpassed top destinations such as Orlando and Las Vegas to rank number one in tourism spending in the United States for the first time. NYC & Company projects record tourism numbers will keep New York in the top spot for 2008. Despite the economic downturn, New York City's hotel occupancy rate remains more than 20 percentage points higher than the national average. The announcement took place at Rockefeller Center. "Despite the economic challenges all cities are facing, tourism remains a bright spot for New York City, with 47 million visitors spending $30 billion here in 2008, the highest totals we've ever achieved," said Mayor Bloomberg. "To be sure, the ongoing downturn will weigh on New York City's hospitality industry as people all over the world cut back on travel, but the investments we've made to promote New York City will continue to pay dividends, now more than ever", he added. "The number of overseas travelers coming to New York City continues to rise, and now roughly a third of all who come to the US come to New York. The importance of diversifying our economy is clearer today than ever, and we will continue to make strategic investments to promote New York City and keep it the place travelers want to come" underlined Mayor Bloomberg. "New York City has been favorably impacted by the City's aggressive global marketing efforts launched through the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg," said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company. "This year, we completed our international expansion that began less than two years ago, targeting international visitors who contribute more than half of total visitor spending. In so doing, the City has secured the top spot in U.S. tourism spending, beating out strong competitors such as Orlando and Las Vegas. These achievements underscore New York City's attractive position as a premier global travel destination." In 2008, NYC & Company also launched a new communications and marketing campaign, "Go Local," aimed at encouraging New Yorkers and tri-state residents to visit the five boroughs during the summer months. Popular citywide marketing campaigns were also rolled out, such as NYC & Company's bi-annual Restaurant Week promotion, the Harlem for the Holidays shopping campaign, the bi-annual Signature Collection Third Night luxury hotels promotion, and the tourism savings programs Winter in the City and Summer in the City. The year was also highlighted by the popular public art exhibition, The New York City Waterfalls, which NYC & Company heavily promoted both domestically and internationally. New York City's hotel occupancy rates continued to top the US average in 2008 by at least twenty percentage points despite the economic downturn. The City added 1,800 net rooms to its hotel inventory, bringing the total to roughly 75,600 rooms, and in 2008, room demand increased 2%. Through September, attendance at New York City visitor attractions and cultural organizations rose 14% over the same period last year,