The headwinds that should be keeping tourists out of New York are pronounced, including an ongoing to trade war with China, the economy on the verge of recession in Europe and a relatively strong US dollar that weighs on the buying power of foreign visitors, according to the New York Times.
But despite these obvious reasons that international tourism should be slowing, just the opposite is happening in New York. In fact, New York City is seeing tourists in record numbers.
This summer, the city is on pace for its highest annual tally of tourists ever, expecting nearly 67 million of them. This would dwarf 2018’s number by about 2 million visitors and it would be the 10th consecutive year of rising tourism for the city.
Fred Dixon, the city's tourism marketing agency chief executive, said:
“We’re facing some headwinds economically and geopolitically, but we’re still on track for growth in 2019.”
And the record numbers come even though the growth of tourism from China has slowed significantly since President Trump started slapping tariffs on Chinese imports. China still remains the number two source of foreign visitors to the city, but has devalued its currency significantly, further driving up the cost of purchases for international tourists.
The trend is being seen at places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which says that there has been a decline in groups arriving from China. Of more than 7 million visitors to the Met over the last year, 28% came from outside the country, which is down from 34% the previous year.
It is expected that 1.16 million visitors from China will arrive this year, which is still an increase of about 50,000 over 2018. And despite turmoil over Brexit and the relative weakness of the British pound, New York is still anticipated to see a similar increase in visitors from the UK, which is the city's number one source of foreign tourists. Those two increases will mostly offset the drop in visitors from places like South American countries, where economies in countries like Argentina are in turmoil.
Tourism in New York has also been helped along by large events, including the WorldPride pride celebration. The reopening of the Museum of Modern Art in October will also help draw visitors. However, in 2020, the Summer Olympic games will be held in Tokyo and political conventions in the United States are set for Milwaukee and Charlotte.
Regardless, Mr. Dixon believes that there will still be a modest rise visitors again next year, as long as the global economy stabilizes: “The big trend in travel today is experiential and people know that they can come and New York offers a wide swath of experiences, whether they lean toward the culinary, cultural, fashion or shopping.”