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Holiday tourists pack New York City

Big city attractions, decrease in crime bring in the visitors

December 28, 1998
Web posted at: 3:43 p.m. EST (2043 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist

(CNN) -- Holiday tourists have booked most of New York City's hotel rooms and are packing its streets, stores, theaters and restaurants this season.

The attractions are the city's shopping, tourist sites and an impression that New York is safer than ever before.

Travelers from all over the world find plenty of things to do in New York for the holidays. A favorite is shopping at Bloomingdale's.

"As you walk through our store, you hear languages spoken from at least all of the European countries, some South American countries, from the Far East," said Jeff Sherman, president of the legendary department store.

related resource
Planning a trip to Gotham? Get information on lodging, restaurants, sightseeing and more in our Guide to New York City.
Broadway shows also pack them in. This year, New York theaters enjoyed their best ticket sales ever, primarily because of tourists. In addition, the city's 150 museums are teeming with out-of-towners and many of the 17,000 restaurants are jammed.

Officials estimate that almost 34 million tourists have made their way to New York City this year. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's brings about 9 million into town -- about one tourist for every city resident.

One reason for the increase in tourism is the 11 percent decrease in major crime from last year.

"One major thing stopping people from coming to the city was exorbitant crime and that, for the large part, has changed," said Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The onslaught of holiday tourists has turned a stroll through Midtown into an obstacle course. Lines are everywhere -- to the Empire State Building, to view the windows at Sakes Fifth Avenue. Manhattan's 60,000 hotel rooms are almost full.

"People coming into New York, no matter who they are, are getting put up in New Jersey or Westchester," said Rose Ganguzza, a spokeswoman for the Plaza Hotel.

New Yorkers have varying reactions to the holiday crush, depending on their point of view.

"Everyone was in my way. I couldn't wait for the holiday season to be over," said one city resident.

"Business is good. I'm happy," said another.

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