New York City Sees Record Tourism

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After travelers tightened their budgets and tourism numbers dwindled in 2009, New York hosted a record number of visitors in 2010.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says 48.7 million people came to the Big Apple last year, a 7% increase over tourist numbers for 2009. Officials say 9.7 million visitors came from abroad, while the rest of the 39 million were from inside the U.S.

The numbers are up despite a storm that dumped snow on the city and clogged airports last week, a well-publicized jump in bed bug infestations, and increased charges for theater tickets, restaurants and hotel rooms.

The news suggests New York's travel industry--New York City's fifth-largest industry--is back on course after tourism numbers slipped in 2009 for the first time since 2001. It is estimated tourism contributed to about $31 billion in direct spending last year alone.

Other numbers back the idea that tourism is beginning to rebound: Bloomberg says 6,600 jobs were added to the hospitality industry last year, Broadway attendance increased 3.8% over last season, and a new high of 25.7 million hotel room nights were sold in 2010.

"The strength of our tourism industry is one of the reasons New York City was less impacted by the national recession than other cities," Bloomberg says in a statement, "and it continues to be one of the reasons we're growing faster than other cities today."

Back in 2007, Bloomberg set a goal of reaching 50 million visitors by 2012.

The city tallies visitor numbers using data on airport arrivals and hotel occupancies, plus U.S. Department of Commerce data on international travelers. Visitors are defines as a person who traveled more than 50 miles or spends the night in the city, not including commuters.

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