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How Has Tourism Rebounded in NY Post-Pandemic?


Tourism in New York state has grown post-pandemic but employment in tourism-related industries remains 4.3% below pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report found strong increases in domestic and international travelers to the state. In particular, visitors flocked to outdoor destinations, with attendance at state parks 9.1% higher in 2023 than in 2020.

This is DiNapoli’s third report on the tourism industry after the abrupt shutdown caused by the pandemic in 2020. During the pandemic, New York lost $10.9 billion in economic activity from travel and tourism, but by 2023, had fully recovered, and was $792 million higher than in 2019. In a report released in May, the State Comptroller found that tourism-related industries in New York City were nearly at a complete recovery, as visitor spending and tax revenue have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“Travelers from around the world are drawn to all corners of the state and keep coming back because they fall in love with New York. Tourism generates tens of billions in economic activity and employs many New Yorkers across the state,” DiNapoli said. “New York is welcoming back tourists in big numbers after the pandemic, but the recovery is uneven, with some regions lagging. I encourage policymakers to review these trends and ensure the state’s tourism programs are effectively promoting the unique experiences each region of the state has to offer.”

Tourism generated $34 billion in direct economic activity and provided almost 417,000 jobs statewide in 2023, ranking New York second behind California in direct economic activity from industries related to tourism.

While tourism-related economic activity has fully recovered, employment in the sector remains lower in every region of the state. In 2020, nearly one-third of tourism-related jobs were lost. While employment bounced back by 36.6% from 2020 to 2023, it is still 4.3% below pre-pandemic levels. Total wages of $23.1 billion paid to those working in the industry were 6.9% higher in 2023 than in 2019, with an average annual salary of $55,500.

In 2023, the Mohawk Valley was still down 17% of its tourism-related jobs, followed by the North Country (-15.2%) and the Finger Lakes (-11.8%) with the lowest job recoveries. Long Island (-1%) and Central New York (-1.6%) are closest to their pre-pandemic levels.

Other key findings:

  • Domestic Travel Up: In 2022, there were 355 million non-work trips made by residents of other states to New York, an increase of nearly 31% from two years prior. People from New Jersey account for 60% of these visitors.
  • International Travelers Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels: After dropping by more than 84% in 2020, the number of international visitors to New York was 7.4 million higher in 2023 than in 2020, but still below pre-pandemic levels. New York has reclaimed its distinction as the top U.S. destination for travelers from overseas, with more international visitors than Florida, Nevada, and Texas combined.
  • State Park Visits Jump: Visitors to the state’s parks increased by over 900,000 in 2020 and continued to increase over the next three years, with visitation 9.1% higher in 2023 over 2020. Of the state’s parks, the Niagara Reservation had the highest attendance in 2023, nearly 9.5 million visitors. Long Island parks had the largest increase in attendance since 2019, with over 2 million more visitors. In contrast, National Park sites, including the Statue of Liberty, had fewer visitors than in 2019.
  • Agritourism Grows: Agritourism, which includes wine tastings, pick your own fruits and vegetables, and hayrides has grown in New York. There were 947 farms in 2022 earning over $55 million from agritourism. This was almost double the number of farms as well as more than triple the income from 2007. The Hudson Valley had the most farms with agritourism income in 2022, while the Finger Lakes region farms had the highest income from this source.


Welcome Back to New York: An Analysis of Post-Pandemic Travel

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