2003 record year for Big Apple tourism

NEW YORK -- Fueled largely by domestic visitors, a record 37.8 million tourists came to New York City last year, up 7% compared to 2002, according to NYC & Co, the city's tourism marketing agency.

The figure exceeded the previous record year -- 1999 -- when the city hosted 36.4 million tourists. In 2003, the city welcomed a record 33 million domestic visitors, three million more than in 2002.

International arrivals, however, continued to decline, with 5.7% fewer foreign visitors in 2003 compared to 2002. Still, the city remained the No. 1 destination in the U.S. for overseas visitors; Los Angeles was second.

In another positive indicator, for the first time since 2000, the city recorded an increase in business travel from the previous year, with business travel growing by 400,000 trips, to 9.6 million visitors, a gain of 4.3% over 2002.

Tourism remained a powerful economic engine for the city's economy, with direct visitor spending forecast at more than $16 billion, a 15% increase over 2002.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Jorge Sidron at [email protected].

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