The New York Tourism Board has been busy this year, between offering same-sex marriage vacation packages or counting every last visitor that’s come into the Big Apple. That last one has paid off.
The city this week named its honorary 50 millionth visitor in 2011: actually, two of them, a British couple, named Craig Johnson and Lucy Foulger, who were in town to get married at Rockefeller Center. For their efforts, the pair got to spend an hour with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in lovely Times Square. But that’s not all!
According to the New York Times, they also received gift cards and show tickets that are equal in value to $25,000 with such companies as American Express, Travelocity, Bloomingdale’s, F.A.O. Schwarz, and the Tribeca Grill restaurant. Any taxes incurred by the couple will be paid by NYC & Company.
The actual 50 millionth visitor is expected to hit town in the next few days, the Times reports, which will make this a record year for visitors in NYC. The final tally is expected to be 50.2 million, according to a city press release.
“Foreigners tend to spend more in the city’s hotels, restaurants, museums and stores than the typical domestic tourist does,” the Times reports. Bloomberg’s tourism office estimates that visitors to New York will spend $32 million in 2011 and $16 million more will be spent by those who are making that money.
“Five and half years ago, we set an ambitious goal to reach 50 million visitors by 2015, and in 2008, we accelerated that goal to be the end of 2012,” stated Mayor Bloomberg. “Today, we know that we will exceed this significant milestone by year’s end. New York City’s quality of life has contributed to this great success and we are confident we will sustain the success of our tourism industry in the months and years ahead.”
So why Johnson and Foulger? The New York Times notes that the couple was picked because Britain led the pack when it came to the country with the most visitors to New York; also, the pair first came to New York together just before Sept. 11, 2001 and stayed near the World Trade Center.