BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WCBS 880/1010 WINS/AP) – The numbers are in, and Mayor Bloomberg is happy.
New York City set a new record of nearly 48.7 million visitors in 2010, a sign that the Big Apple’s tourism industry is bouncing back after a decline in tourists the previous year when travelers everywhere tightened their budgets amid the recession.
“New York City was for the second year in a run America’s number one tourist destination,” Bloomberg said.
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The increase shows the city’s travel industry may be back on track after tourism numbers slipped in 2009 for the first time since 2001.
New York saw a 7 percent increase in visitors over 2009, when there were 45.6 million. Officials said 39 million visitors were from the U.S. and 9.7 million were from abroad; both numbers are records.
Amid the economic slump, the City was able to beat out the recession more so than any other city as visitors spent an estimated $31 billion last year, helping provide more than 320,000 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry.
“The strength of our tourism industry demonstrated by these numbers is one reason why New York City has weathered the national recession better than most of the cities have,” Bloomberg said.
Even better, the mayor predicted the City would meet its goal of hosting 50 million visitors by 2012.
“If you remember our original target was 50 million by 2015, then by great optimism we moved it down to 2012,” Bloomberg said.
The Big Apple was by far the top U.S. destination for travelers from overseas, with 33 percent of total abroad visitors. Miami and Los Angeles tied for second place, each with 11 percent of the share.
Travel experts said New York is an exception among U.S. cities as far as its quick recovery over the past year.
“If you evaluate New York individually, you would think the lodging industry has gotten back to where it was. But New York is an anomaly,” said Scott Berman, hospitality and leisure leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “You’ve got corporate demand and leisure demand from both the U.S. and overseas that are driving the strength in New York.”
Tourists flocked to New York despite travel scares like the spread of bedbugs in the city and a volcano in Iceland that grounded European air travel for several days.
The 2010 record was even higher than the city’s projection for the year, which had been 47.5 million.
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