New York targets one million UK and Irish visitors next year

New York hopes to welcome more than a million visitors from the UK & Ireland next year as it projects a strong and accelerating rebound following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city expects 751,000 visitors this year, compared to 1.27 million in 2019, and is projecting just under 1.1 million to make the trip in 2023, which would re-establish the UK & Ireland as its number one source market.

Speaking in London, NYC & Company chief executive Fred Dixon said he was encouraged by the initial response to the reopening of transatlantic travel, with 30 direct flights now operating from London.

He also said the reopening offered a golden opportunity for the travel trade, as customers navigated changes to restrictions and sought more advice and reassurance.

“The amount of change within the city means we have a new story to tell, and we know the travel trade will play a key role in communicating that to their customers,” he said.

“The pandemic served as affirmation that booking through the trade has always been the right decision, and we are working on plans to ensure our trade partners and travel agents have all the tools they need to tell our story again.”

Dixon said trade plans included hosting as many travel sellers as possible to experience developments in the city first-hand, in addition to enhanced training to update agents on new experiences and a renewed focus on neighbourhoods, local experiences and diversity and inclusion.

While he admitted headwinds including the Ukraine conflict, fuel prices, inflation and exchange rates remained a concern, he said he was confident pent-up demand and income saved during the pandemic would result in a strong 2022 and growing momentum heading into next year.

“Hotel occupancy is back in the 80s (%) and while the domestic market is the main driver, we have seen a rapid uptick in international travel and travel from this market,” he added.

“Vaccine requirements and mask mandates are being eased and that is making the city even more attractive.”

Dixon said NYC & Company had joined the US Travel Association in lobbying for the removal of pre-departure testing requirements for visitors, and said he hoped the requirement would be lifted in time for the summer season.

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