NEW YORK—With 52 million tourists visiting New York City last year, the city smashed its tourism goal by two years.
Now, the city has its eye on attracting younger and international groups of visitors to help reach the new goal of 55 million by 2015—and $70 billion in economic impact. Bringing more tourists will help grow what has become the city’s fifth largest industry, and the employer of 10 percent of the workforce.
“The mayor has made clear we have no intention of slowing down in 2013,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel said at the NYC & Company annual meeting Wednesday. “We are going to sprint to the finish, and tourism and hospitality is the top of the issues of the agenda we are focused on.”
The city’s booming hotel industry has grown by 30 percent since 2006, with 93,000 rooms in all five boroughs. Despite all the space, younger tourists, in the 18–29 age bracket, may be looking for more affordable options.
As proposed in the mayor’s State of the City address on Valentine’s Day, the city will create the nation’s first licensing model for privately owned hostels. The move is designed to emulate an accommodation style already widely popular with European tourists.
“We recognize today’s youth traveler is tomorrow’s business or family traveler and they are also potential New Yorkers,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
NYC & Company has invested heavily in advertising campaigns around the globe, utilizing the “This is New York” branding.
The result has been an increase in international tourists to 11 million in 2012, a 50 percent increase from 2006. New York City has a market share of 33 percent of all international visitors to the United States.
The city also invested in emerging markets such as Brazil, Asia Pacific, and Australia, all markets that saw double-digit growth in 2012.
“Our city’s unparalleled energy, vibrancy and diversity, along with its world class products and services, continue to have an irresistible pull on visitors from around the globe,” said Fred Dixon, executive vice president of Marketing Development for NYC & Company.
NYC & Company will continue their city-to-city outreach, searching for the next emerging market, as well as new ways to draw in the luxury market.
Know Thy Neighbor
New York City’s landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and the bull on Wall Street will always draw tourists, but what about the city’s lesser known neighborhoods?
As more tourists come to visit, NYC & Company plans to diversify the areas they will promote, adding neighborhoods such as Fort Greene in Brooklyn, Snug Harbor on Staten Island, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, and Forest Hills in Queens.
“Each (neighborhood) is rich in cultural and artistic diversity,” Bloomberg said. He said promoting new areas will help local businesses.
While much of the talk of the annual meeting revolved around the economic value of tourism, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta reminded the 2,000 tourism industry partners in attendance how important tourists are to the city.
“Our visitors are very much a part of what makes our great city a great city. Our diversity, vibrancy, and excitement are embodied in our visitors,” Fertitta said. He painted a picture of Times Square without tourists, a Broadway show without foreign theatregoers, and Central Park without photo-snapping tourists.
“We love their money, but we should also appreciate how they make us feel,” Fertitta said. “We are lucky visitors are a part of who we are and what we are.”
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