After several years of steady growth and healthy profits,
New York tour operators were caught a bit off-guard this year by some
softer-than-normal sales, so much so that theories about what caused the slump
This happened despite the city's recent report that it
expects 2016 to set a record with 60.3 million visitors, a 3% increase over
2015, and mark its first time surpassing the 60 million visitor milestone.
"At Real New York Tours we have definitely seen a
slight dip in business in 2016," said Luke Miller, owner of Real New York
Tours. "Nothing that raises too much concern, but for a city like New York
that has seen an increase in tourism steadily over the years it is surprising."
Miller said clients have been asking about the general safety
of the city due to the issues of homelessness and in the aftermath of the
bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in the fall, in which 31
people were injured.
"The recent election, I think, has also left a bit of
financial uncertainty among people living in the States," said Miller, who
noted that prebookings for the company's holiday tours were down.
New York hotel operators have had to reduce room rates this
year to fill expanding inventory. While occupancy rates through the third
quarter remained steady at 85%, the average room rates fell 2.9% from a year
earlier, to about $248 a night, according to STR.
Todd Lefkovic, founder and owner of Foods of New York Tours,
said business is currently down 12% compared with last year.
"It's complicated to know exactly why our numbers are
down this year," he said, adding that, "Some of our predictions are:
The world economy is not great, there are still a lot of people out of work,
there is a lot of uncertainty during an election year and many people were
thinking that New York would have the next terrorist attack after Brussels and
Lefkovic said that in addition to his business being soft,
he noticed that numerous restaurants closed in July and August, rather than
trying to see if they could make it through the busy holiday season.
Despite some of the anecdotal observations about travel to
New York experiencing something of a slump this year, NYC & Company, the
city's tourism and marketing organization, said that it is only spending that
is down slightly this year, which had been expected, due to factors including
the strong dollar.
"Spending per person may be slightly down, but overall
spending will be up," Chris Heywood, senior vice president of global
communications for NYC & Company, wrote in an email.
He noted that NYC & Company forecasts that New York will
welcome approximately 60 million visitors in 2016, up from 58.5 million
visitors last year.
Indeed, not everyone whose business relies on tourism to the
city is experiencing a decline.
Collette reported a 5% increase in 2016 bookings for New
York over 2015 and said that the tour operator's New York tours have
consistently been strong revenue drivers for the company.
"The election and the state of the country may have
something to do with predictions of New York being down, but for right now we
continue to drive tours there every year," Collette said in a statement. "New
York is just not a place that guests, especially those 65 years and older, want
to be navigating themselves."
Both NY Media Boat and New York Tour1 said they too are not
experiencing any slowdown in business.
Danny King contributed to this report.