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Orlando to NYC: You're not the top U.S. tourist destination

22 December 2011 by By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY

New York City expects a record 50 million tourists by year's end, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this week at a press conference, where the Big Apple was touted as the nation's No. 1 tourist destination.

Not so fast, counters theme-park-central Orlando.

"Orlando is the No. 1 destination" in the USA, says Visit Orlando corporate communications director Brian Martin.

"We announced last year we broke the 50 million mark," he says. This year the metro Orlando area, which includes Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, expects 53.37 million visitors from 50 miles away or farther, he says.

NYC & Company, New York's tourist arm, has long maintained that Orlando's count isn't comparable, because it includes such a vast area, whereas New York tourism stats come from the city's five boroughs and not adjoining counties.

One thing both destinations can agree on: New York is top of the heap when it comes to international visitors. It expects about 10 million this year vs. about 4 million for Orlando.

Both destinations rely on varying methods, combining such stats as international arrivals, hotel occupancy and visitation at attractions. I've always wondered how people can tell whether travelers came from farther away than the next town or how you can count in Orlando when a mega-park such as Disney does not release visitation figures.


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