Tourists are flowing into New York City at a rate that puts the city on track to host a record number of visitors in 2010, officials said Wednesday.
City officials said preliminary tourism data show New York is on course to surpass its 2008 record of 47 million visitors and reach 47.5 million this year.
That's also a 4 percent increase over 2009, when New York's tourism numbers slipped for the first time since 2001, to 45.6 million, as more Americans reined in their spending amid the recession.
Tourism is New York City's fifth-largest industry, pouring about $30 billion a year in direct spending into the economy.
One in nine workers in New York City are employed in hospitality jobs at such places as hotels, restaurants, museums and theaters.
Officials said the city's hotel occupancy rate from January through June of this year was 6.8 percent higher than the same period in 2009, and the number of non-commuter Amtrak passengers arriving at Pennsylvania Station increased by 9.4 percent, to 1.8 million, in the first half of 2010 over the same period the previous year.
Broadway theaters also sold 6 million tickets in the first half of the year, an increase of 3.7 percent.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a goal of reaching 50 million visitors by 2012.
"We set it as a very aggressive objective and I'm happy to say — no guarantees — but we are on track to achieve that," Bloomberg said at a City Hall news conference.
Delta alone serves 11 million passengers at JFK annually. It operates mostly out of Terminal 2 for domestic flights and Terminal 3 for international trips.
The $1.2 billion project includes nine new international gates for larger aircraft, an expanded baggage claim area and border control operations. Terminal 3 will eventually be demolished and paved for aircraft parking.
Construction on the project is set to begin next month, with completion scheduled for 2015.