Last year, predictions proliferated that the U.S. would lose millions of visitors and billions of dollars as a result of President Donald Trump's proposed travel restrictions and "America First" rhetoric. But this didn't materialize in New York City, which welcomed an estimated 62.8 million visitors last year, an increase of 2.3 million visitors over 2016, according to numbers recently released by NYC & Company. The official destination marketing organization for the city reported that it brought in 49.7 million domestic and 13.1 million international visitors, both all-time highs. In addition, 6.2 million meetings and conventions delegates visited the NYC's five boroughs last year, contributing to the total 13 million business travelers that came to New York City.
"We're keeping our door to the world open," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Even with all the headwinds from the White House, we attracted a record number of visitors to our city. That's a testament to the strength of our tourism sector and the values of our city."
Groups are an important part of the equation. "The meetings and conventions segment of New York City tourism remains an integral part of our overall visitor mix. With an expansion of the Javits Center underway, an incredible collection of iconic and new hotels available, and creative venues for every size meeting, the city's five boroughs are a perfect choice for meeting attendees to gather," said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon.
In response to President Trump's negative rhetoric, NYC & Company created campaigns, "New York City - Welcoming the World," and "True York City," that encouraged global travelers to explore the city more deeply.
Overall, tourism last year grew 3.8 percent compared to 2016, when NYC welcomed 60.5 million visitors. 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 in 2017.
"Domestic and international tourism being at all-time highs is a testament to New York City's reputation as a place for all people," said Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, chair of the NY Assembly Committee on Arts & Tourism. "I'm proud that our city not only believes in this sentiment but is also able to successfully communicate this message to the world. More than just an incredible economic driver, tourism is also a mechanism by which to promote diversity and cultural awareness."
NYC has the most active hotel development pipeline in the United States. Even with the 4,000 new rooms added to the city's hotel inventory last year - bringing the total to nearly 116,500 rooms - demand remained strong. Last year, New York City sold a record 36.4 million hotel room nights, a 4.5 percent growth from 2016.
Helping stoke this interest from visitors, in 2017, the city saw the debut of several new Midtown attractions, including National Geographic's Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, the NFL Experience, Opry City Stage, Gullivers Gate, and Spyscape.
NYC & Company's 2018 forecast anticipates another year of growth, with a 3.7 percent increase to 65.1 million visitors.