NEW YORK -- More tourists visited this city last year than ever
before, thanks in part to the Big Apple's vastly improved image,
its upgraded tourism infrastructure and a robust national economy,
according to the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau said that more than 33 million tourists visited the
city's five boroughs in 1997, 3.6 million more than in 1996, the
previous record year for tourism arrivals. These visitors spent
nearly $14 billion on hotels, restaurants, sightseeing and
attractions--about $600 million more than in 1996--generating $710
million in taxes and supporting more than 131,000 permanent jobs,
the CVB said.
The statistics reflect the city's improved image as a safer,
cleaner and more exciting place to visit, supported by a strong
national economy and increases in foreign visitors, said bureau
president Fran Reiter, who made the announcement at a press
conference attended by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The mayor recalled that as recently as the early '90s the city
had a reputation as an unsafe and unfriendly place to visit. "I
remember being in London in 1990 and meeting people there who were
afraid to come to New York," he said. "Travel agents there were
giving people tips to get them to come [to New York], and one of
the tips was not to make eye contact with New Yorkers."
New York ranked third--up from fifth in 1996--among the top 10
U.S. destinations for domestic travel, behind Orlando, Fla., and
Las Vegas. In 1997, the city welcomed 27 million tourists from
within the U.S., up from 23.4 million in 1996, the bureau said.
Business travelers accounted for 10.4 million arrivals, up 28%. The
city also retained its position as the top U.S. destination for
The bureau said it projects continued growth for 1998, with more
than 34 million travelers expected to visit the city and spend $300
million more than last year.