From: USA Today
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of visitors to New York City fell last year for the first time since 2001 when terrorists struck. But tourism declines elsewhere across the U.S. made it the most popular destination in the country for the first time in almost two decades, tourism officials said Monday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg painted the 3.9% decline — an estimated 45.3 million visitors — as a victory, saying that amid the recession the city had anticipated losing as much as 10% of tourists. The city expects to recoup most of the loss this year and remains on track to hit its longstanding goal of 50 million yearly visitors by 2012, the mayor said.
Other hot spots were hit harder, making New York America's No. 1 destination for the first time since 1990, the mayor said. For nearly two decades that title was held by either Las Vegas or Orlando.
Foreign visitors — traditionally the biggest spenders — fell to 8.6 million in 2009, a drop of almost 10% from the year before.
Still, some attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, reported jumps in visitation. And the city's leisure and hospitality industry — which provides one-tenth of the city's private sector jobs — actually grew in 2009.