Take New York City, for example. New York City is the most popular travel destination in the United States, (Forbes) hence, has the most to lose by a precipitous drop in travel and its related expenditures. Restaurants, hotels, and cultural attractions alike would all suffer a blow with a loss of tourists. Fortunately — and to some, surprisingly — this summer is turning out to be a record-breaker for New York City travel.
New York City Tourism Industry
On August 11, 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that New York City was on track for new highs and record-breaking tourism levels in 2010. The mid-year travel rates are tracking higher than for the same period in 2009: New York City had 23.5 million tourists in the first half of the year, an 8.75 percent increase over the same period in the previous year. What with the popularity of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Christmas in New York City, NYC is projected to meet (if not exceed) its goal 47 million visitors by the end of 2010, and of 50 million annual visitors by 2012.
New York City Hotel Occupancy Rates
No other sector is as valid a measure of travel rates to NYC than is hotel occupancy. After all, residents see Broadway shows and eat at restaurants frequently — those are two of the benefits of living in the Big Apple.
NYC & Company sent me a 5-year trend report of hotel occupancy rates, as determined by its Research and Analysis Department. The breakdown clearly shows that hotel occupancy rates are the highest at midyear in 2010 than any of the past five years: July 2010 shows hotel occupancy at 86.9%, with the matching months of 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 all being somewhat lower (with 2009 rate of 84.8% being the lowest of the past five years).
Average daily rates (ADR) tell a somewhat different story. The ADR for July 2010 is $220, higher than July 2009’s ADR of $198, but lower than those of 2008, 2007, and 2006. Perhaps this represents an adjustment to “the new normal” for New York City daily hotel rates, or perhaps this shows that hotel value packages and deals are enticing more people to spend their vacation dollars in the city.
Other New York City Tourism Sectors
All sectors are showing a rebound from 2009’s low travel rates. The first two quarters of 2010 had a 9.4 percent increase in non-commuter travelers coming to Penn Station on Amtrak, bringing over 1.8 non-commuter passengers in the city. In-bound passenger traffic at the three major airports servicing New York City also increased in the first half of the year, by 1.2% domestic and 4.8% international arrivals. In the first half of the year, Broadway shows had an increase of 3.7% over January-June 2009, selling more than 6 million tickets.
The travel and tourism industry, with its leisure and hospitality sectors, is New York City’s fifth largest industry. In 2010, more than 320,000 people are employed in some way in the travel industry and leisure markets. Hotel tax revenues contributed $178 million to the city’s coffers in the first half of 2010, up a whopping 25% over the same time period in 2009. Clearly, things are looking up for NYC’s travel and tourism industry. One can only assume — and hope — that the rest of the country follows suit.