New York Business Journal: New York City tourism to return to near pre-pandemic levels this year

New York Business Journal: New York City tourism to return to near pre-pandemic levels this year


January 23, 2023


After plummeting in 2020, tourism is forecasted to return to near pre-pandemic levels this year.


In 2019, there were 66.6 million total visitors in New York City, according to a report by NYC & Co. In 2023, the city is expected to welcome 61.7 visitors, made up of 50.8 million domestic travelers and 10.9 international ones.


Tourism is forecasted to surpass 2019 levels by 2024.


Though domestic travel recovered rapidly, being forecasted to reach nearly 90% of its 2019 benchmark in 2022, international visitation took until 2022 to rebound, being expected to reach 8.9 million visitors, more than triple its 2021 volume.


Tourism is a vital component of the city and state’s economy. Visitors spent $73.6 billion in the state in 2019, according to a report by the Tourism Economy. After falling to $33.9 billion in 2020, it returned to $52 billion in 2021.


Of the $52 billion, lodging, including the value of second homes, accounted for $16.4 billion, 32% of the average visitor dollar. In comparison, spending on food and beverages resulted in $13.9 billion.


As a result, the hotel industry is heavily tied to tourism. The hotel industry in Manhattan, which has the highest wages and the third-highest industry employment of any county in the nation, lost 46% of its jobs in 2020, according to the state comptroller.


Though conditions have improved, 11,000 rooms remain closed in the city, according to Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City.


“It’s definitely not as rosy as we’d like to think it is,” Dandapani said. “You certainly don’t see people walking around New York City with rolling bags, as we used to see pre-Covid.”


Jeffrey Citron, co-managing partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, who works with clients in the hospitality space, said the rise in tourism is very “Manhattan driven.”


“There is renewed interest and foot traffic in the Fifth Avenue department stores, growing business in the hotel and dining sectors and fresh excitement surrounding theater, entertainment and other attractions. When you talk about those things, you’re really talking about Manhattan,” Citron said in an email.


Travel goes beyond typical tourists as business travel also returns to the city, impacting businesses.


“Business travelers are going into the corner bodega or Starbucks to grab breakfast on their way to a meeting or trade show,” Citron said. “They are getting their shoes shined. They’re parking in the garages. They’re picking up essential items at CVS.”