The city of New York once again welcomed a record 62.8 million visitors in 2017, marking the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth for the destination. Tourism remains a cornerstone of New York City’s economy, with more and more visitors coming from the U.S. and abroad to experience its diverse culture and ever-evolving landscape.
And despite adding 4,000 new hotel rooms to its inventory last year alone (bringing the total to nearly 116,500 rooms), demand has remained strong. Last year, New York City sold a record 36.4 million hotel room nights, a 4.5 percent growth from 2016.
NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for the City of New York, also signed more international City-to-City tourism partnerships than any other year to boost travel, including teaming up with Cape Town, South Africa; Toronto, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; and renewals with Mexico City, Mexico and Seoul, South Korea. The partnerships include media exchanges that further promote New York City abroad.
New attractions hit midtown
In 2017, New York City saw several new midtown attractions debut, including National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, the NFL Experience, Opry City Stage, Gulliver’s Gate and Spyscape. From exploring the deep and stepping into the cleats of a football star to taking to the country music stage or navigating a miniature interactive world, each of these new attractions adds to the unique list of things to do in New York City.
Furthermore, with the launch of the NYC Ferry last May, there are now more ways to access the city’s diverse neighborhoods through its waterways.
Also in 2017, NYC & Company launched two campaigns: “New York City – Welcoming the World” and “True York City,” which helped position NYC as a must-visit destination despite challenges in the geopolitical climate and changes in travel policies.
Overall, tourism last year grew 3.8 percent compared to 2016. Domestic visitation grew 3.9 percent, from 47.8 million visitors in 2016 to 49.7 million in 2017. International travel increased by 3.4 percent, from 12.7 million visitors in 2016 to 13.1 million in 2017.
NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon said the task to promote tourism in 2017 was more challenging than ever, but the city was able to overcome the hurdles. “The strength from our Asia and South American markets helped offset drops in our traditional European core markets. And campaigns to counter the negative rhetoric … reaffirmed our commitment to being an open and welcoming global capital.”
Pairing a city stay with upstate New York
The state of New York is undergoing a transformation all its own, including a new casino, a water park, and a makeover around Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is without a doubt a bucket list spot when traveling to New York, and with a new brand campaign entitled “Niagara Falls USA - Where Adventure Comes Naturally,” also comes some new hotels and upgrades to existing properties.
The Historic Hotel Niagara, where Marilyn Monroe stayed in the 1950s, will be transformed into a 130-room upscale hotel with restaurants, lounges and ballrooms; the renovation will be complete in 2019. Hyatt Place will open this Spring one block from the main entrance to the Niagara Falls State Park, and the 128-room hotel will have banquet space and 7,000 square feet of retail space facing Old Falls Street. The Days Inn, located in downtown Niagara Falls, is currently under a transformation; when complete, it will be re-flagged the Wyndham Garden.
In terms of attractions, the indoor Cave of the Winds Pavilion has been added to the overall Cave of the Winds experience at the state park; and the new Niagara Zipper is the first zipline in history to cross a navigable waterway.
The Resorts World Catskills, a $1.2 billion resort at the Old Concord Resort site in Kiamesha Lake, New York, is also set to open later this month. It will include an 18-story casino, hotel and entertainment complex, including 332 hotel rooms, two indoor pools and a spa. There are also plans to add Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark to the development, which will feature a two-acre indoor waterpark inside a luxury hotel. That addition is scheduled to open in early 2019.