Tourist Tally Turns a Corner
Lower Manhattan tourism has begun to rebound from the troughs of the COVID pandemic, with several key indicators matching or exceeding levels last seen in 2019, according to a new analysis from the Downtown Alliance.
“While more visitors may mean increasing competition to snag a table at your favorite Downtown restaurant, rebounding tourism is great news for our restaurants, hotels, small businesses and the thousands who work in our hospitality industries,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York.
The Alliance study, based on data collected by Audience Research & Analysis, indicates that the strongest area of local tourism growth was the marked spike in international visitors. Among all tourists (defined as those visiting Lower Manhattan who live outside a 50-mile radius of New York City), the proportion of coming from outside the United States nearly doubled—from 28 percent in 2021 to 55 percent in 2022. This is just short of the 62 percent high-water mark that metric reached in 2019. Among all international visitors, 47 percent were visiting New York City for the first time, up from 42 percent in 2021 and 34 percent in 2020.
The Alliance report also documented that sightseeing continues to be the preeminent reason for travelers to visit Lower Manhattan, with World Trade Center complex (where the Oculus transit hub is a particular draw) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum remaining the district’s most popular attractions.
That noted, dining along with arts and culture make up a significantly larger market share for visiting the district than they did before the pandemic. In particular, the amount of visitors drawn to Lower Manhattan primarily for its arts and culture has doubled since 2019, rising to 12 percent.
Among visitors coming to Lower Manhattan from abroad, the primary feeder markets—Germany, France, and the United Kingdom—accounted for over 40 percent of international travelers. By contrast, tourism from Asian nations market continues to trail its 2019 levels, making up just four percent of group tours.
Notwithstanding the increased tally of visitors and statistical bumps across many sectors of the local tourism industry, the Alliance notes that the number of visitors still lags 29 percent behind the historic high reached in 2019, when 17.1 million people visited the district.