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NYS Travel Spending: 2022 Data Inspires Optimism For 2023

Dec 6, 2022

As we approach the end of 2022, I would like to share a look at the data and statistics available to us from the latest release from U.S. Travel's Recovery Insights Dashboard. The data illustrates a story of tourism recovery (and resurgence!) for New York State's tourism industry.  

Before I look at the story told by the data, however, I want to look at the untold story that lies beneath the statistics of recovery - YOUR STORY. It is a story of passionate commitment, innovation and creativity, and HEROIC EFFORTS to support small business survival, sustain the vitality of your destination communities and protect the wellbeing of the residents in those communities.

We were able to recognize some of those outstanding efforts in October at the 2022 New York State Tourism Excellence Awards, but I'd like to preface the analysis below with a shout out to all of New York State's tourism professionals. Thank you for your heroic efforts over the past 20+ months overcoming unprecedented challenges under adverse circumstances.

Thank you also to Governor Hochul, Senator Schumer and to our colleagues at I LOVE NY, who worked tirelessly on our behalf to provide aid and support when we needed it the most. 

Well done, one and all... but our work is not yet complete. 

October 2022: New York State travel spending for October 2022 was down 1.8% from 2019 levels, indexing at 95, 5 points off vs the national travel spending recovery. While neither of these statistics are 'positive' as a snapshot in time, there is significant reason to be upbeat about our rate of recovery and optimistic about New York's prospects for growth in 2023. You need to consider the context of where we were one year ago.

December 2021: One year ago, in December of 2021, New York State travel spending was down 33% from 2019 levels and our recovery index vs national spending was 70, 30% off the national pace.  As illustrated by both the trend line and data charts below, by April of this year, monthly travel spending in New York State had surged to within 10% of 2019 levels and our recovery index improved from 70 to 92.

In fact YOY travel spending for the first six months of 2022 increased by 100% or more vs 2021! 

The pace of recovery in New York State can now aptly be described as 'resurgent.' But there is more to this story. Statewide statistics do not accurately illustrate local market performance.

New York State finished 2021 down 29% from 2019 spending levels. But statewide performance was compromised by the fact that international travel was still heavily restricted, some borders were still closed and air travel had yet to really begin its comeback. Major meetings and group events were also just beginning to return.

These factors impacted New York City and the major metropolitan destinations disproportionately, as illustrated in the chart at right.

Other regions of the state fared much better in 2021. In fact seven of the eleven tourism regions were at or above the 2019 travel spending threshold. Three regions actually registered growth of 20% or more vs 2019, and from all accounts this growth has been sustained. 

In 2023, I fully expect New York State to set a new benchmark in travel spending and to begin a new era of robust growth. New York City's comeback is well underway. Meetings, events and international travel are all growing robustly.

Growth in 2023 is not guaranteed, we will have to compete for it and earn our way to success. But I am confident in our destinations, our travel industry and our leadership! 

- Bob Provost