India hits pre-pandemic figures to New York City in 2023

With increased spending & length of stay, the anticipation for 2024 is around 64.5 Mn visitors, the forecast for India is 383,000.

Talking about the response received from India and overall, also the roadmap ahead, Makiko Matsuda Healy, Senior Vice President of Tourism Development, New York City Tourism + Conventions, talks to T3 and shares her inputs.

“In 2023 it has been 61.8 million overall visitors globally which is about reaching 93% mark compared to 2019. Sometime next year to 2025 we are anticipating hitting the pre-COVID level. But I am really proud of the team that India is hitting the 2019 level already by 2023 number, which was 336,000 visitors to New York City.” Healy shares anticipation for 2024 which is around 64.5 Mn visitors, and then for India, the forecast is 383,000. “India has such a great access to New York City and we are the number one gateway from India to the US.”

Talking about market segments in focus, Healy mentions that “We are looking at leisure, it is actually over 68% that is leisure which includes VFR (at 35%), 32% of visitors traveled for business. There has been a pent-up demand after COVID to see the families coming in. Since now the students are coming in, the students’ family also come in, so it is really an important segment.” The average party size is 1.4, amongst which 76% traveled alone, 8% traveled with children, 14% traveled with spouse/partner. The average age is 39 years considering the overall visitor profile.

India is gradually coming up to make its mark in top 10 source markets for NYC, mentions Healy. “The growth rate is getting better, visitor stay is getting longer, and spending is getting higher. The average length of stay is 11 days, which was up from 9.9 pre-pandemic. In 2022, Indian visitors spent $569 million in NYC, and the average spending is $2200 per person per stay, which was $2000 before pandemic.”

“Indian visitors want to really experience things, not just sitting around relaxing. We are working in the B2B space, with the trade partners on ground to offer not just one type of travel or a typical package to New York City. There are so many different needs, it is about personalization and customizing to one’s needs. It is an important aspect of curating the travel for the Indian visitors. That is where we are working with the trade exploring all sorts of possibilities. The good thing is New York City has so many ways to slice and dice it and it is not just typical visit, but it is like travelling for your passion”, adds Healy.

“Whether it is sports, or Broadway, exhibitions, peaceful dining experiences, or neighbourhood experiences, NYC is not just the typical experience that what everybody knows. I think it is important to hit that classic iconic New York City, but also neighbourhood experiences for especially the repeaters and also exploring hidden gems, to hit expected and unexpected”, opines Healy. When asked about increasing capacity, Healy mentions “The next three years we are anticipating 17 more hotels coming into the pipeline and 10,000 more hotel rooms in the city. As of now there are over 120,000 hotel rooms active inventory in New York City.” In terms of Visa processes, Healy mentions that there are easy options now as compared to right after the pandemic period, and 4 million people already have US visa, and the U.S. issued more visa than ever in history.

“We are working with travel trade letting them know how they can navigate about this visa waiting time and encourage consumers to apply for it. And especially when we are talking about things like T20 or the World Cup coming up, so it is good for people to act as early as possible, so that they have time and keep checking.