Tourism is one of New York’s most vital industries, with more than 40 million domestic and international tourists visiting every year for the past six years. In 2013, a record was set with 53 million tourists.
Top destinations include the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Broadway theaters, museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, parks such as Central Park and Washington Square Park, Rockefeller Center and the Times Square.
Also attracting crowds are the luxury shops along Fifth Avenue, events such as the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, seasonal activities such as ice skating in Central Park in the winter, the Tribeca Film Festival, as well as free performances in Central Park at Summerstage. Other destinations outside the classic tourist areas of the city are the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island and the New York Botanical Garden.
In 2010, New York had a record number of tourists reaching 48.7 million. As the United States economy continues to recover, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s goal is to break the record again in 2012 by attracting more than 50 million tourists.
Double-decker sightseeing buses and guided boats bring tourists to various parts of Manhattan and other boroughs, while horse-drawn carriages cater to those with preferences for more romantic moments. The more adventurous can rent bikes at neighborhood shops or along the Hudson River or simply walk, as this is often the fastest way to avoid congestion in shopping areas and is always the best way to appreciate life on the street .
The World Trade Center (WTC) was a major tourist destination before the attacks of September 11, 2001, which devastated the city and its tourism. Tourists were scarce for months, and it took two years to fully recover with fewer international but more domestic visitors. This is partly due to an emphasis on “patriotic tourism”. The World Trade Center in the same spot became an important place to visit.