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New York City breaks tourism record for third straight year

Tourists gather in Times Square in New York August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Tourists gather in Times Square in New York August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

By Peter Rudegeair

(Reuters) - Some 52 million visitors traveled to New York City in 2012 in a third straight record-breaking year for tourism, the mayor's office and the city's tourism organization said on Monday.

More than a million additional tourists visited to New York in 2012 than in 2011, a 2.1 percent increase, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office and NYC & Company, New York's tourism and marketing organization, said in a news release.

New York received 41 million visitors from elsewhere in the United States, and 11 million traveled from a foreign country. The tourists spent $36.9 billion directly and generated an estimated economic impact of $55.3 billion.

The city set a goal of welcoming 55 million visitors by 2015, Bloomberg said on Monday in a news release. The old goal of attracting 50 million visitors by 2012 was surpassed a year early, according to Chris Heywood of NYC & Co, the city's tourism and marketing organization.

New York has seen a record number of tourists each year since 2002 with the exception of 2009, Heywood said.

The record-breaking figures were announced on a day when more than 1 million revelers were expected to ring in the New Year by packing Times Square to watch the famous ball drop, according to cable television news station NY1.

The growing number of visitors to New York also reflected the current boom in tourism across the globe. A record 1 billion travelers visited a foreign country in 2012, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

New York ranks among the top five destinations in the world, along with Paris, London, the Turkish resort of Antalya, and Singapore, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

One in three overseas travelers to the United States visited New York, another new record, Heywood said, citing U.S. Department of Commerce figures.

In 2011, the United States ranked first in international tourist receipts, with $116.3 billion spent by tourists that year, and second in international tourists with 62.3 million, according to UNWTO. France ranked first in international tourists with 79.5 million.

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