It was another banner year for Big Apple tourism with a 6.9 percent increase in dollars pumped into the city's economy in 2012, according to city officials.
"It's because of our extraordinary global image," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced the new tourism figure high of $55.3 billion for 2012. A hotel tax of $504 million was collected for the city's general fund.
About $15 million of that tax revenue is used to pay for the promotion of New York City tourism domestically and around the globe by NYC & Company.
"New York City continues to attract people from all around the world who want to experience our unique culture, food, parks, shopping, arts and energy," said the mayor, who made the announcement Monday at the American Museum of Natural History, which attracts about 5 million visitors each year.
Bloomberg said the tourism industry in 2012 has created 356,000 jobs in all five boroughs, and noted that hotel jobs generally offer annual salaries of about $52,000.
"These are really great jobs and they help New Yorkers move into the middle class, especially for immigrants and people who are open to hard work and a commitment to raise a family here," Bloomberg said.
The mayor also said tourism continues to thrive as a result of the city's all-time-low crime rate.
"Tourists want to be safe and this is the safest big city in America and that's why tourists come here," he said.
The NYPD has released statistics that showed murders and shootings are down.
Josh Clarke, 22, and Josh Vincente, 26, of Alabama, agreed the city feels safe. They were visiting the Sept. 11 memorial in lower Manhattan.
"We've had no worries," Clarke said.
"We've been on the subways at night and exploring the city with no problems," Vincente said.
Esteban Ciro, 30, of Colombia, said: "Being from Bogota we have experience with theft so we know how to be alert and keep our bags close to our hands."