A new state report says the city's tourism industry has...

A new state report says the city's tourism industry has rebounded since the pandemic. Credit: AP/Ted Shaffrey

New York City's tourism industry, once devastated by the pandemic, is nearing a full recovery, with visitor spending and tax revenue already surpassing pre-COVID levels, according to a new report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

But even with bright economic signs, DiNapoli warned that international and business travel have been slower to rebound while jobs in the tourism and entertainment industries are lagging behind other fields.

Last year, the city had 62.2 million visitors, down nearly 7% from a record 66.6 million in 2019, the report found. But even with fewer tourists, visitors to the five boroughs spent more than $48 billion last year, up 1.3% from 2019 because of the increase in prices, including average daily hotel rates that now exceed $300. 

“The industry’s recovery won’t be complete until we see a full return of international and business travelers, and a full recovery of local jobs,” DiNapoli said. “Our city and state leaders need to focus on keeping New York a desirable and safe destination for individuals and families from around the world.”

The uptick in visitors is projected to generate a record $4.9 billion in sales and other tourism-related tax revenue in fiscal 2024, a 16% hike from four years earlier, figures show.

The outlook for next year, DiNapoli said, is bright as the city expects to welcome a record 68 million visitors.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said the city anticipates 65 million tourist visits in 2024. 

"Our city went from the fourth lowest number of tourists in 20 years to having the fourth highest numbers ever last year," the statement said. "New York City is the most popular destination for international visitors, and we’re committed to keeping tourism strong."

New York City remains the nation's leading tourist destination, with 33.5 million overnight visitors in 2023, topping Las Vegas and Los Angeles, which had 26.4 million and nearly 22 million such visitors, respectively, last year, the figures show. Overnight visitors are projected to increase by more than 18% in 2025 to 39.7 million, the report said.

Domestic travelers, particularly those making leisure visits, are driving the tourism recovery, the report found. The 50.6 million domestic city visitors last year is up 7% from 2022, although down 4.7% from 2019, the comptroller said.

But international travel, both for leisure and business — which makes up  20% of the city's visitors — has not fared as well and remains down 14.1% from 2019.

The decline appears to be linked to changing international travel patterns.

China, which in 2019 accounted for the city's largest share of international spending, now ranks ninth, in part because of the country's strict COVID lockdowns.

The United Kingdom now has the top spot, driving $1.9 billion in international spending into the city, with the average tourist dropping nearly $2,000 per visit, the report shows. France, Australia, Canada and Germany round out the top five nations in international spending, DiNapoli said.

Business travel has also lagged leisure travel, the comptroller said, largely because of the impact of remote work.

For example, international business travel to the city declined from 3.4 million in 2019 to 2.3 million last year, figures show.

And while the city's tourism industry has bounced back from the pandemic, the employees supporting that sector have yet to reap the benefits.

Tourism retail jobs are down by more than 9,100 positions since 2019, or 16.8%, while jobs in restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues are down by more 16,500, or almost 10%, data shows.

Average salaries in both industries, meanwhile, are lagging behind other private sector wages.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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