The number of people who visited New York City was higher than ever in 2016, with more than 60 million tourists coming to the five boroughs. While that quantity isn’t expected to waver too much in 2017, the number of foreign visitors may drop this year, a change that city officials have attributed to the Trump administration’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
NYC & Company, the city’s main tourism agency, released a revised version of its 2017 international travel forecast. According to its projections, the city could see 300,000 fewer foreign visitors this year, which would be the first dip in tourism numbers since 2008. The agency’s initial 2017 forecast was produced in October, before the presidential election; the new numbers “take into account changing attitudes about travel and access to the U.S.,” according to a press release.
In an interview with the New York Times, NYC & Company president Fred Dixon noted that the impact of the travel ban will be felt as soon as the spring. “The Europeans start coming to New York around Easter and continue through summer,” he told the Times. “That’s when you’ll see the rhetoric out of Washington really having an impact on travel.”
To combat the anticipated drop in numbers, NYC & Company is launching a new ad campaign called “New York City—Welcoming the World,” meant to assure international travelers that regardless of the messaging coming from Washington, “New York City’s experiences and values remain the same and all are welcome,” per a press release.
“We’re a place that welcomes everybody. It’s in our values and in our economic interest,” deputy mayor Alicia Glen said in a statement. “We’ll keep reminding visitors what we stand for, so we can keep this both the most internationally visited and the safest city in America.”
Despite the expected drop in international travelers, New York is still expected to break tourism records in 2017: the number of domestic travelers is expected to rise slightly, bringing the total projected number of visitors to 61.7 million. But, as noted by the agency, “it takes the spending power of four domestic visitors to equal what a single international visitor spends.”