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NEW YORK CITY—Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says tourism in the city this year broke records for both the number of visitors and the money those visitors spent. The city attracted an estimated 47 million visitors in 2008, up from 46 million in 2007, according to figures released Monday by the Bloomberg administration and NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourism organization. Tourism accounted for $30 billion in total spending during ’08, compared to the previous year’s record-setting $28.9 billion.

The year-over-year increase of one million visitors came from overseas, with the 9.8 million international travelers accounting for more than 20% of the total number of tourists coming to New York City, and more than one-third of overseas visitors to the US. NYC and Co. expanded its global reach in ’08 to 18 overseas offices serving 25 international markets. The city’s hotel occupancy rate, while off by 1.5 percentage points from ’07, remains 20 percentage points above the national average, according to a release. Through September, attendance at New York City visitor attractions and cultural organizations rose 14% over the same period last year, according to NYC & Co. estimates.

“Despite the economic challenges all cities are facing, tourism remains a bright spot for New York City,” says Bloomberg in a release. He adds, “To be sure, the ongoing downturn will weigh on New York City’s hospitality industry as people all over the world cut back on travel, but the investments we’ve made to promote New York City will continue to pay dividends, now more than ever. The importance of diversifying our economy is clearer today than ever, and we will continue to make strategic investments to promote New York City and keep it the place travelers want to come.”

At a news conference Monday announcing the ’08 tourism figures, NYC & Co. CEO George Fertitta predicted a decline of less than 10% during 2009. That squares with state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s projection that New York City hotel occupancy in ’09 would slip by nine percentage points. However, in a report on the city’s outlook issued last week, DiNapoli warned that “tourism in New York City has… lost its momentum.”

After several years of record numbers of visitors, “the number of visitors has begun to decline,” DiNapoli wrote. “According to data from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the number of flight passengers traveling to the New York metropolitan area has declined by 1.3% in the first nine months of 2008, compared to one year earlier. The number of domestic passengers declined in almost every month in 2008, while growth in international passengers has slowed recently in response to the global recession and the strengthening US dollar.”

If there is a slowdown in travel to New York City next year, though, it may not be met by an oversupply of hotel rooms. A CB Richard Ellis report issued in late summer says the pipeline of new keys is “overestimated.” The CBRE report forecasts that 69 hotels with 10,836 rooms will come on line by the end of 2010, a 23% decrease from previous estimates, with an additional 34 hotels with 3,380 rooms will open after 2010. Combined with the projects removed from the pipeline and estimated removed inventory, the new construction will bring Manhattan’s hotel supply to 75,584 rooms by the end of 2010, a 5% decrease from previous estimates, according to CBRE. The report adds, “these numbers could decrease even further depending on the length of the current tight capital market environment.”

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