By Joseph Shieh
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC & Company announced that 2015 was the sixth consecutive year for record-breaking tourism, with the City welcoming an estimated 58.3 million visitors last year, an increase of 1.8 million visitors over a year ago. Visitation for 2015 comprised 46 million domestic and 12.3 million international visitors, both all-time highs. Hotel demand was also strong with a record 33.7 million hotel room-nights sold, and meeting and convention delegates reached new heights, with a total 6.1 million attendees.
NYC & Company is the official tourism marketing organization for the City of New York.
“Through the hard work of NYC & Company, and their support of the City’s various attractions—from restaurants to the performing arts and more—2015 marked a new milestone for NYC tourism. As the safest and most exciting big city in America, we have so many rich offerings that continue to make the five boroughs a global draw,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We are pleased to see a sixth year of tourism growth in New York City as we welcomed 58.3 million visitors last year. The City continues to evolve, always offering fresh reasons to visit again and again, with more new developments on the horizon. However, with the continuing pressure on the global economy and the strengthening dollar, we will all need to work even harder in 2016 to sustain our competitive edge,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company.
“Tourism continues to be a crucial component of New York City’s economy, and we’re fortunate to continue to sustain solid visitor growth year after year. The City has unparalleled vibrancy and energy and offers a multitude of options throughout all five boroughs. I want to thank NYC & Company’s more than 2,000 member businesses for their continued support of our City’s travel and tourism industry,” said Emily K. Rafferty, Chairman of NYC & Company.
Even with the nearly 6,000 new rooms added to the City’s hotel inventory last year—bringing the total to nearly 107,000 rooms—the demand for NYC resulted in 4 percent growth with the City selling a record 33.7 total hotel room-nights last year, 1.26 million more hotel room-nights sold compared with 2014. NYC has the most active hotel development pipeline in the US. Overnight visitation—a key component of total visitation—has grown approximately 3.2 percent. (Visitors are defined as anyone who stays in NYC overnight or who travels one way from a distance of 50 miles or more for the day.)
In 2015 a record 6.1 million meetings and conventions delegates visited the City’s five boroughs, contributing to the total 12.3 million business travelers that came to New York City. This is up from last year’s 6 million in attendance.
Of the City’s four largest international markets—UK, Canada, Brazil and China—all demonstrated growth last year, with China showing the largest rate of growth, a 14 percent increase to an estimated 852,000 visitors. Preliminary estimates of 2015 visitation figures from the City’s four largest international markets are: UK (1.192 million); Canada (1.072 million); Brazil (926,000); and China (852,000).
In 2015 the City saw major attraction openings such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, One World Observatory, Brookfield Place, Kings Theatre, High Bridge and Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor. Additionally, the 7 subway line was extended to Manhattan’s Far West Side at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue (the extension was funded by the City of New York), and Queens benefited from being named the number one US destination by Lonely Planet. To commemorate these enhancements, NYC & Company held events around the globe to promote all these new openings under the banner of the “new New York.”
In November NYC & Company also announced its latest tourism campaign, Unlock NYC, to promote winter travel to the City’s five boroughs (info at nycgo.com/unlock). This winter, NYC & Company is also promoting its winter vibrancy programs, targeting visitors and locals. NYC Restaurant Week, running through February 5, includes $25 three-course lunches and $38 three-course dinners at more than 370 participating restaurants throughout all five boroughs (info at nycgo.com/restaurantweek). NYC Broadway Week, offering two-for-one tickets at nearly 30 Broadway shows, runs through February 5, and NYC Off-Broadway Week, also offering two-for-one tickets, runs February 1–14 (tickets went on sale January 19).