Holiday Tourism News for NYC

The major question for tourism right now is whether Omicron is another Delta—suppressing travel and spending—or whether this variant will prove to be a milder version with less effect on New York City. Early reports are favorable from a tourism perspective: 

Those reports are consistent with what we're seeing from other sources:

  • AAA predicts heavy travel for the holidays—92% of 2019 levels, with airlines seeing a 184% increase from last year.
  • Tripadvisor records the city at the top of the list for winter trips (Maui comes in second).
  • An article in Crain's yesterday looks at the uptick in international travelers and notes that “foot traffic is noticeably up on Fifth Avenue, almost back to pre-pandemic levels.” City Guide is represented in the article, with our most recent data on tourists: 

    "One anecdotal piece of data is the percentage of New York City visitors who have taken a survey available in the print edition of the tourist magazine City Guide NY since late November. Of those, 45% were international and 55% domestic. City Guide is once again being distributed at 300 hotels around the city and generally already skews international, said Ethan Wolff, its director of content management. But nearly half was a good showing, considering that visitors from abroad stay longer and spend more: 'It could have been 25% and I wouldn’t have been surprised,' ” he said.
tumbling brights lincoln square
The Lincoln Square BID's holiday tree is lit, on display through January, along with the special installation "Tumbling Brights" in the Broadway Malls from 60th-70th Sts. The BID has also launched a series of pop-up performances that will run every Wednesday through December, highlighting some of the more exciting things happening throughout Lincoln Square. Details can be found here. Photo by Filip Wolak.

Other signs of new growth and recovery include:

NYC hotel occupancy recently reached a pandemic-era high of nearly 88%. The Times Square Alliance has released its November pedestrian counts and they're respectable: +118% from 2020 and close to 70% of 2019 numbers. Omicron remains a wild card, but there's evidence to suggest it is already peaking in Africa, keeping us optimistic that it will prove more of a speed bump than a barrier

Links of Interest

lights on the cobbles

The Meatpacking District has installed its first annual holiday light display, "Lights on the Cobbles." Ten light installations on Ninth Avenue between 14th and Gansevoort Sts. add festive illumination to the neighborhood.



Everything to Do Facebook Group Post of the Week

As another marker of tourism's recovery, our Facebook Group Everything to Do NYC has seen accelerated growth since early November (now approaching 70,000 members). Broadway remains a major topic of conversation, like the over 100 comments on this query:

Suggestions for Broadway show for adult / teen?

  • Nearly 20% of the responses recommended Wicked
  • Dear Evan Hansen was second, with 15% 
  • Jagged Little Pill and Come From Away held the next tier down
  • Hamilton got only one vote. Is momentum starting to flag there?
  • Jagged Little Pill garnered some of the most passionate support, inspiring one commenter's "...riveting, relevant, exhilarating..."

If you're not a member of the group yet, join us. You'll find first-hand market research that you don't have to pay for.

About the Author

Ethan Wolff is the author of numerous guidebooks to New York, having covered the city for more than two decades. He has written for New York Magazine, BlackBook, and Details, among others. In addition to his work as the editor of City Guide, Ethan covers NYC’s talk and lecture scene for the website Thought Gallery. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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