New York City is back on top as the number one travel destination this holiday season – for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
More than half of Americans (55%) plan to travel this winter, up 50% from 2020, according to Tripadvisor’s Winter Travel Index. An overwhelming majority of bookings remain national, with travelers looking to explore new horizons across the states.
Compared to last year’s figures, vacation travel to the United States is expected to increase just over 40%, according to The Vacationer’s vacation travel survey.
U.S. residents will be heading to the Empire State to shop at holiday markets and revel under the 79-foot-tall, nearly 12-ton Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Behind New York are Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Key West, and Miami Beach, Florida. Notably, the second most populous city in the country, Los Angeles, is in ninth place.
Stacey Toussaint, a New York tour operator, is excited about the influx of tourists. Toussaint is the president of Inside Out Tours, a black woman-owned company that takes guests off the beaten track to explore the city’s less-told history.
She believes tourism can be a tool to support other small businesses in her community.
“If tourism is done properly, tourism can actually bridge the gap and generate income to keep institutions open. The churches we visit give us a portion of our income,” Toussaint told NBC New York.
The Winter Travel Index revealed that Americans feel happier this holiday season than their international counterparts. However, recent uncertainty surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant may create more turmoil.
President Joe Biden on Monday called the new strain a cause for concern but “no cause for panic”, sharing the message that the White House was not planning another radical US lockdown.
The Biden administration plans to tighten Covid testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Proof of a negative Covid test is currently required regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated people should take a sample at least three days before entering the United States, while non-fully vaccinated travelers should be tested no later than one day before leaving a foreign country.
“The CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight and considerations regarding additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines,” said the Dr Rochelle Walensky, Centers for Disease Control and Director of Prevention, Tuesday.
The change in plan comes less than a month since the United States reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international tourists.
Despite the pandemic’s setbacks, studies predict a slow and promising recovery as the Big Apple navigates a post-Covid future in the tourism industry.
Last month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an inclusive $ 450 million stimulus package “Bring Back Tourism, Bring Back Jobs” that coincided with the return of foreign nationals.
The plan consists of a $ 100 million tourism workers recovery fund and a total of $ 125 million for subsidy programs. While $ 200 million is set aside to support small businesses that started up just before or during the pandemic.
Even though New York City has seen a dramatic drop in visitor numbers in 2020 from the record-breaking year of more than 66 million tourists in 2019, the city’s tourism agency predicts a surge in visitors. in 2022.
The agency predicts that New York City will hopefully welcome just over 57 million tourists next year, mostly domestic travelers but nearly doubling international travelers in just one year.
The pace of the recovery depends on a strong response to leisure travel after a year of lockdown.
Toussaint believes there is a bright future for the tourism industry in the Big Apple, a city that she says “took a break but never stopped” bouncing back.