Safe streets, beautiful parks, clean neighborhoods, exciting cultural opportunities: These are the kinds of things that not only make New York City a great place to live and work, but also the most popular destination in the country for visitors. By every measure, our tourism industry is booming. Last year, we welcomed an all-time-high, 48.8 million visitors. This year, we’re on track to top that. By the end of the year, we will also be home to a total of 90,000 hotel rooms. That’s a record high and a 50 percent increase from a decade ago.
What’s especially remarkable about our new hotels is that they aren’t all opening where you’d expect, in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. No, they are opening all across the city. In fact, last week, I was in Long Island City to officially cut the ribbon on the Z NYC. This 100-room hotel is the eighth hotel to open in this Queens neighborhood over the past two years. The reason is as clear and compelling as the revival that’s taking place in Long Island City: world-class museums, flourishing film and television studios, easy access to mass transit, and a burgeoning commercial district of its own that will soon be home to Jet Blue’s corporate headquarters.
But make no mistake, our growing tourism industry isn’t only a by-product of our city’s excellent quality of life, it’s also producing real benefits for the people in all five boroughs. Thousands of New Yorkers work in our hotels, part of a leisure and hospitality industry that employs more than 320,000 New Yorkers. The money that tourists spend when they come here ripples through our local economy to support hundreds of thousands of more jobs.
Jobs were also on the menu at the new Fairway market that opened last week in Douglaston, Queens. The new Fairway, a first for the borough, created more than 400 jobs for New Yorkers. That’s in addition to the nearly 500 new jobs created by the recently opened Fairway on the Upper East Side. Our Department of Small Business Services has been working with the supermarket chain to recruit and train local residents, including veterans, for many of these new jobs.
Fairway’s new locations are one more sign that businesses, big and small, have confidence in New York City’s future. They’re opening, they’re expanding, and most importantly, they’re hiring. This growth is a big part of the reason why New York City entered the national recession later and emerged from it faster than the rest of the country. It’s also a reason why we’ve been able to regain some 78 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, while the rest of the country has regained only 21 percent.
Keeping this job growth going is our top priority. Every day we wake up focused on creating more jobs, putting more New Yorkers to work, giving our economy a boost when it needs it, and building our city’s future for generations to come.