74th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Scott Gries  /  Getty Images file
The 74th annual Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony took place Nov. 29 in New York City.
updated 12/27/2006 6:49:11 PM ET 2006-12-27T23:49:11

New York City said Wednesday it received 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 Bloomberg said in a statement that tourists spent some $24 billion while visiting the city this year.

The number of visitors has been steadily climbing after remaining stagnant at 35 million in 2002 following the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked-plane attacks on the World Trade Center.

In 2006, travelers from Britain led the way -- accounting for 1.2 million of the estimated 7 million foreign tourists --while the other 37 million visitors came from elsewhere in the United States, Bloomberg said.

An estimated 1.25 million international travelers were visiting the city this week, between the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, he 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 the money spent by tourists in 2006 helped support nearly 350,000 jobs.

The number of tourists topped the 2005 record of 42.6 million visitors.

The city has forecast that 45.5 million people will visit during 2007 and it has set a target of attracting 50 million foreign and domestic tourists by 2015.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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