"We are incredibly grateful for the weak dollar," quipped George Fertitta, head of the city’s tourism office NYC & Company.
Mr. Fertitta joined Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber in crediting "beneficial exchange rates" for boosting tourism to record levels in 2007.
An estimated 46 million total travelers visited New York last year, contributing some $28 billion to the local economy, according to the city’s latest projections, which officials presented at a press conference at Pier 88 on Sunday alongside the docked Queen Victoria cruise ship.
The imposing backdrop seemed intentionally symbolic: While U.S. tourists remain the Big Apple’s bread and butter, the number of international travelers rose 20 percent last year to 8.5 million. Nearly 1.5 million came from the United Kingdom alone — exceeding even pre-Sept. 11 figures from across the pond.
Another 880,000 (roughly 40,000 more than 2006) traveled from Canada, which saw its dollar reach parity with our own George Washington for the first time in decades.
The buck still passes muster at Manhattan check-in counters, of course, and room rates have soared: now $295 per night on average — 20 bucks more than in 2006, according to the city’s figures.
Demand continues to outpace supply, despite 1,000 new hotel rooms constructed over the past year.
Is there any downside to having so many frickin’ tourists in town? one reporter asked the new Deputy Mayor, Mr. Lieber.
“That’s like asking, ‘Can business get too good?’" he said.