Here's how tourism benefits New York City

A new report looks at the impact of tourism on New York City's businesses, job growth and more.
nyc tourism
Tourists make up 60 per­cent of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s visitors, according to a new report. Photo: @metmuseum/Twitter

New York City is, obviously, a top destination for tourist. From Broadway shows to museums of all kinds, it has a lot to offer sightseers — but what do those visitors have to offer the city?

 

Tourism has been praised as an economy booster, and a new report from the Center for an Urban Future is breaking down just how tourists affect New York City. The report was funded by the Association for a Better New York and the Times Square Alliance.

 

Over the past two decades, tourism to New York has increased 90 percent, according to the report, and in turn, that growth has spurred hundreds of thousands of jobs.

 

Throughout the five boroughs, there are now more direct jobs in tourism, at 291,084, than in finance, at 268,200.

 

Though New York is becoming a burgeoning tech hub, that sector still pales in comparison to the tourism industry, according to the report, since there are about half as many tech jobs (128,600) than those in tourism.

With 91 percent of the jobs in tourism-focused industries open to those with less than a bachelor’s degree, this has become an important way for New Yorkers to find “middle-income” work, the report argues. That includes working at a hotel, and there are 51,000 hotel jobs citywide.

It’s not just Manhattan that’s benefitting from tourists, either. Looking at Visa transactions, the report found that out-of-towners are responsible for 14 percent of Visa purchases at restaurants in Prospect Heights and Cobble Hill.

In Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, visitors are swiping their cards for 6 percent of all retail spending, which totals, according to the report, more than $23 million each year.

A March report from the mayor’s office noted that 2017 saw more tourists visit New York City than ever before, with 62.8 million people having visited here. That was the eighth year in a row the number of tourists increased, but this new report says that trend may be threatened.

New York City has never “adequately planned” for 60-plus million tourists a year, the report says, and some infrastructure issues, like overcrowding at the airports and subway delays, can be unpleasant to visitors and deter them from coming here.

Plus, there are growing negative opinions about the United States due to political happenings, per several surveys, meaning New York City’s tourism might decline as people plan less trips to the U.S. in general. This means the city needs to step up and make it more welcoming than ever to sustain the tourism industry, according to the report.

“We cannot take tourists for granted,” Keith Douglas, managing director of One World Observatory, said in a statement, “and must deliver on great guest experience for the price that is being paid.”

More NYC Tourism by the numbers

Tourists make up 73 percent of visitors to the Museum of Modern Art, 70 percent of visitors to the Whitney Museum of American Art and 60 per­cent of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s visitors

Tourists are responsible for 24 percent of all Visa transactions at New York City restaurants and drinking places

Tourists account for 18 percent of all Visa transactions at retail stores in the city.

Tourists are roughly 70 percent of passengers at JFK Airport and 50 percent at LaGuardia

Employment in NYC’s scenic and sightseeing transportation industry has increased by 90 percent since 2000

 
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