New York looking at a long road back

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T1130EMPTYTIMESSQUARENY_SS_HR [Credit: GetCoulson/Shutterstock.com]
New York's Times Square. Tourism numbers are expected to plummet by two-thirds this year. Photo Credit: GetCoulson/Shutterstock.com

New York City's total visitation numbers aren't expected to rebound until 2024, with inbound international travel to the Big Apple at risk of taking until 2025 to fully recover.

According to a recent report released by NYC & Company and Tourism Economics, the city is on track to receive a total of 22.9 million visitors for 2020, which represents a 66% drop on 2019's 66.6 million visitors.

The international market will see the steepest decline this year, down more than 80% from the year prior, to just 2.4 million visitors. In comparison, domestic inbound visitation -- defined as travel from more than 50 miles away one-way, with an overnight stay -- will fall just over 60% in 2020, to 20.5 million visitors.

By next year, New York expects to see total visitation recover to 38.2 million visitors, followed by a 49% increase, to 57 million visitors, for 2022. Total visitation is projected to creep only slightly from that, to 65 million visitors, in 2023.

By 2024, however, NYC & Company and Tourism Economics expect total visitation to surpass 2019's record high, reaching 69.2 million visitors. The domestic market is predicted to account for the vast majority of that surge, at around 55.8 million visitors.

Inbound international travel for 2024 is anticipated to come in just shy of 2019 levels, at around 13.4 million visitors.

Notably, NYC & Company said in a statement that this forecast represents a "conservative outlook," with the pace of the city's recovery able to potentially accelerate if "health breakthroughs align with lifting restrictions on activities and gatherings."

"The overall industry could be back to 2019 levels in three years, especially if business travel restrictions affecting large events and meetings are eased in 2022," added NYC & Company. "At the same time, New York City's strong position with international travelers could help revive the cautious global travel market sooner."

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