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The Big Apple is still seeing fewer tourists than before the COVID pandemic amid concerns about crime, according to a report released by the state comptrollers office Thursday.

The number of people who visited New York City last year — 62.2 million — was about 7% less than the 66.6 million tourists tallied in 2019, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

Our city and state leaders need to focus on keeping New York a desirable and safe destination for individuals and families from around the world, DiNapoli said in a statement accompanying the report.

DiNapolis analysis cited high prices as an issue that could be contributing to the slower recovery, too, including for business or trade conventions.

Some visitors may also be hesitant to return amid perceptions of crime and public safety in the City, the report said, noting Gov. Kathy Hochul deploying the National Guard in the subways in response to a series of highly publicized violent crimes, along with beefed up police presence on the rails.

The city has also seen a few recent high-profile attacks on visitors, including a Pennsylvania mom who was randomly stabbed in the chest while chaperoning schoolgirls on a class trip in Times Square earlier this month.

Two teens from Paraguay were stabbed in an unprovoked attack in Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Day, while a man from Brazil was knifed in the neck at a Queens subway station in February.

The lag was especially striking with international tourism, which, while up from 2022, was still 14% down compared to 2019.

Thats a concern because foreigners spend considerably more money than domestic tourists when they visit. Spending from international travelers is still down 20% from pre-pandemic era, the report found.

Tourists from China represented the largest share of global tourists in 2019, now visitors from the United Kingdom are the biggest share.

The report noted the COVID-19 lockdowns and travel bans were in place for a longer period in China, and that impacted the number of travelers from there.

Domestic travelers, especially those making leisure trips, fared better.

The 50.6 million US visitors to the Big Apple in 2023 were 7% more than in 2022 — but still 5% lower than visitors in 2019.

Conference-based business return is also important for the City as this is one area where visitors have returned faster in other large cities, DiNapoli said.

Revenue and spending from tourism are up overall, but that has more to do with rising prices for hotel rooms and other costs, the comptroller noted.

Meanwhile, there are still nearly 30,000 fewer workers in the tourism-related sector compared to 2019, with jobs down 10% in restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues.

Tourism- related retail jobs are still down by 9,172 or 16.8%, with less foot traffic in tourist areas.

The lag in tourism contrasts with a total recovery of jobs Gotham lost during the coronavirus outbreak.

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DiNapoli emphasized that the picture has improved the past few years and the city is close to recovering all the jobs lost during the pandemic, and could do so next year.

The number of tourists is nearly back to pre-pandemic numbers in New York City, DiNapoli said. 

Visitor spending and the tax revenue this industry generates already exceed pre-pandemic levels, but the industrys recovery wont be complete until we see a full return of international and business travelers, and a full recovery of local jobs.”

The city hotel occupancy rate was 81.6%, highest among top markets in the nation — but still lower than 89.6% in 2019.

The analysis said the migrant crisis contributed to the hotel industry’s bottom line, boosting gross profits by 47% from 2022 to 2023.

Thousands of hotel rooms were taken off the market and the city paid hoteliers an average of $156 per room and provided full occupancy.

These were mostly small and medium-sized hotels, many in the outer boroughs.

Meanwhile, the larger, popular hotels mostly in the Manhattan tourism sector, charged an average of $301 per room.

The head of the New York City Hotel Association said the city tourism market has a ways to go when looking at the global competition.

“The hotel industry not only lags its numbers of 2019, a benchmark year for most industries, but also lags its competitors in other major international gateway cities like London and Paris. Both of those markets surpassed their 2019 numbers in 2023,” said NYC Hotel Association CEO Vijay Dandapani.

He also said surveys show that New York City “scores low in the perception of safety” as well for high costs.

Dandapani also said 16,000 hotel rooms were taken off the market to house migrants and 6,000 hotel other rooms closed during the pandemic.

The city hotel occupancy rate would be lower without the significant reduction in marketable hotel rooms, he said.