New York City is on track to welcome a record-breaking 50 million visitors in 2011, reaching its ambitious goal a year early. To celebrate, Mayor Bloomberg and NYC & Company feted the five boroughs' honorary “50 millionth visitors”—the Johnsons, a family of four hailing from the United Kingdom—at a ceremony in Times Square on December 20. The Johnsons—parents Craig and Lucy and their children, Grace and Thomas—were showered with attention and a variety of prizes constituting a “Golden Ticket” to New York City.
When the Johnsons found out they'd been selected, “it made our day,” said Craig, a carpenter. Craig and Lucy, by the way, had just been married at the Top of the Rock with the help of Ultimate USA Weddings about an hour before the NYC celebration. So it was high praise when Lucy, a homemaker, told New York City: “Thank you for involving us in your special day.”
New York shares her warm feelings, because tourism has become a vital part of the City's economy in recent years. For NYC—the number one US city destination for both domestic and international visitors—the industry contributes more than $47 billion and supports more than 320,000 jobs annually.
Craig and Lucy originally visited New York City a little more than 10 years ago, “when we first started courting,” in Lucy's words. She said she knew then that they wanted to return to NYC: “It was never an option to [get married] anywhere else,” she said.
When they were last here, Craig and Lucy were just a couple, but now they have two children: Grace, 3, and Thomas, 1. As such, they're looking to take advantage of more family-friendly attractions this time around, particularly the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the Central Park Zoo. They've already visited famed toy store FAO Schwarz, and Lucy reports that they “loved it.” Everyone was especially enamored with the giant piano made famous by the movie Big.
The kid-friendly fun doesn't end there, though. The Johnsons—and other New York City visitors—can find a nearly endless assortment of family attractions and activities here. Check out our kid-friendly itinerary, our three- and one-day itineraries, pages highlighting events, dining, shopping, sports, hotels and nightlife, and our slideshow of must-see NYC attractions. If you're planning a trip further in advance, peruse our Trip Planner page and consider ordering or downloading a free Official Visitor Guide. Once you arrive, our guide to NYC-centric mobile apps may be helpful, too.
Bonus: from now until December 30, 2011, “like” nycgo.com on Facebook to find out how to win prizes in our 50 Million Visitors Contest. (Read terms and conditions here.)