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New York City is on course to attract 55 million visitors in 2014, one year ahead of a target set by tourism chiefs.

The prediction came as NYC & Company announced that visitor numbers will reach a record 54.3 million this year, generating almost $59 billion in ”overall economic impact” and $39.4 billion in direct spending.

Tourist numbers this year will be nearly 20 million up on the figure achieved in 2002.

A total of 52.7 million visitors travelled to the city last year – a record high at the time. This year’s new record of 54.3 million visitors represents a nearly 54% increase since 2002, when the city was attracting approximately 35 million visitors.

This year’s total includes 11.4 million international arrivals, with the leading overseas markets being Canada, the UK, Brazil, France, Germany and Australia.

Average hotel occupancy for the year is set to finish at 87.8%, while average daily room rates city-wide are up for 4% to $296. Hotel development is expected to reach 100,000 rooms by the end of 2014.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Tourism plays a vital role in our city’s economy, and the work that we’ve done to strengthen tourism over the past 12 years has helped our city weather the national economic downturn and come out in far better shape than most other cities.

“Since 2002, overall tourism here has grown more than 50%, while international visitation has increased more than 100%. In addition, more and more people are visiting attractions outside of Manhattan, thanks in part to our efforts to support cultural organizations in neighborhoods acros