New York City said Wednesday that it welcomed a record 44 million tourists this year, extending a steady increase in visitors since 2002 as the city has recovered from the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement that tourists spent about $24 billion in visiting the city this year.
The number of visitors began climbing after remaining stagnant at 35 million in 2002 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
British travelers led the way this year, accounting for 1.2 million of the estimated 7 million foreign tourists. The other 37 million visitors came from throughout the United States, Bloomberg said.
An estimated 1.25 million international travelers are visiting the city this week, the mayor said.
"The 44 million people who came to New York City in 2006 are an invaluable engine helping drive the city's economy," Bloomberg said. "New Yorkers from waiters and waitresses to hotel workers ... are supported by the millions of people that come here from around the world to experience the Big Apple."
He said money spent by tourists helped support nearly 350,000 jobs in 2006.
The city has forecast that 45.5 million people will visit in 2007, and it has set a target of attracting 50 million foreign and domestic tourists by 2015.