Holiday tourism is strong this year in New York City, but still not as strong as it was before the pandemic hit in 2019.
Last year, the COVID-19 omicron variant caused thousands of last-minute holiday cancellations, but thousands are now returning to make memories in the city again.
"It's like I'm in awe, I can't believe actually here," said Ronna Jameson, from Nova Scotia Canada, who visited the city for the first time. "I've always wanted to come to New York City, it has been on my bucket list," she said.
For some tourists, it's a trip that has been four years in the making.
"It's magical in New York, isn't it at this time of year?" said Aneesha Fonseca who visited from outside London. "It was amazing, believe me, to be sitting on a plane after four years, it was an experience," she said.
More than six million people are expected to visit between Thanksgiving and New Year.
"It's just the strength of New York City, it's coming back," said Tiffany Townsend of NYC & Company. "There's a lot of pent-up demand for travel," said Townsend.
While people have been visiting from other countries, one of the biggest markets for New York City, China, hasn't returned yet. Visitors from there are down by 88% compared to 2019.
"International travelers, they do stay longer and they do spend more money," said Townsend.
Many of those who are visiting are paying more for hotel rooms. The average daily rate has increased by 8%. The Hotel Association of New York City said that's because there are 15,000 fewer rooms available due to hotels closing during the pandemic.
"Hotel rates have been on the higher side, I think people will definitely see that," said Townsend. "The city is expected to add about another 11,000 hotel rooms over the next three years."
The City expects the tourism industry to make a full comeback in 2024 and is already planning events to draw people to the city after the busy holiday season, including hotel week.
For more details on that, click here https://www.nycgo.com/nyc-hotel-week/.
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