As the steel rises at the World Trade Center site, tourism in Lower Manhattan is reaching new heights. According to the Downtown Alliance’s 2011 Year in Review, 9.8 million tourists flocked to Lower Manhattan’s major museums, events, and attractions last year – 800,000 people more than in 2010.
“Tourism is thriving in Lower Manhattan like never before,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance. “While business travelers remain a significant market element, the growth of leisure visitors and special events has had a significant impact on the industry. The secret is out – Lower Manhattan is a destination of choice in the region, nationally and around the world – for leisure and business travelers alike.”
The growth – an eight percent increase over 2010 – reflects growing interest in all that Lower Manhattan has to offer and comes amid a citywide tourism boost. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, recently announced that New York City ended 2011 with a new record 50.5 million visitors, with visitor spending reaching an estimated $32 billion.
“This past May we launched the Get More NYC: Lower Manhattan campaign to highlight the downtown neighborhoods to visitors from around the world,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “As a result of our efforts to attract visitors to New York City, we not only reached a record 50.5 million visitors in 2011, but also helped create a significant, positive impact for Lower Manhattan. This area has seen an incredible resurgence in the last decade and will, no doubt, continue to be a focal point for the visitors from around the world. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to ensure that visitors and New Yorkers take advantage of all Lower Manhattan has to offer.”
The National September 11 Memorial Plaza, which opened in September 2011, has been a significant draw to the district, attracting one million visitors in its first three and a half months alone.
Other museums and attractions in Lower Manhattan include:
River To River Festival
Tribute WTC Visitor Center
National Museum of the American Indian
Museum of Jewish Heritage
The Skyscraper Museum
Museum of American Finance
Fraunces Tavern Museum
Irish Hunger Memorial
British Garden at Hanover Square
New York Stock Exchange
Saint Paul’s and Trinity churches
South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport Museum
New York City Police Museum
The district also is the gateway to the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island and Ellis Island.
“More than a million visitors have traveled to the National September 11 Memorial since its opening on the 10-year anniversary, honoring and remembering those we lost in the 9/11 attacks,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. “The Memorial is already an important part of this historic neighborhood and its visitors are helping make lower Manhattan thrive.”
“The New York City City Police Museum saw record numbers of visitors during the last year, a testament to the growing interest in Lower Manhattan by tourists and families,” said Julie Bose, Executive Director of the New York City Police Museum. “We were delighted to welcome over 91,000 visitors in 2011 including a mix of local residents, tourists, school children, and families. With the opening of The Junior Officers Discovery Zone the Museum also saw an increase in the number of family memberships, tripling the number of families joining the New York City Police Museum community.”
According to Downtown Alliance research, the number of tourists visiting below Chambers Street was 7 million in 2008, grew to almost 8 million in 2009, and reached 9 million in 2010.
“Lower Manhattan is alive, and our Museum has been a great beneficiary of the rejuvenation of the whole area. In 2011, we experienced our largest visitorship to date, as we saw a 44% increase in individual visitors over the prior year,” said David Cowen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of American Finance.
The remarkable growth the generated more demands for hotel rooms in the district. Five hotels opened below Chambers Street in 2010 alone and 18 hotels opened since 2001 – triple the number of hotels that existed pre-9/11. The former Embassy Suites Hotel has been completely overhauled and will reopen in March as the Conrad New York, and seven additional hotels are in the pipeline and slated for completion by 2014.
Today, there are 4,092 rooms in Lower Manhattan with an average occupancy rate of 80%. The expected additions to the market will bring the inventory to 5,074 rooms in 25 hotels.
The mission of the Alliance for Downtown New York is to provide service, advocacy, research and information to advance Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century Central Business District for businesses, residents and visitors.