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WASHINGTON D.C. – No matter how you slice it, international visits to the US jumped in 2013 over 2012, and New York State was the No. 1 most-visited state, according to newly released data from the Commerce Department.

That may come as no surprise to anyone who’s checked into a hotel in the Big Apple lately and heard a range of accents and languages spoken in an elevator. Many hotels strive cater to people from different countries, whether hiring front desk clerks who speak Portuguese to help Brazilian tourists or serving breakfasts that reflect international palates. The 1,943-room Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square, for example, renamed some suites on the 44th floor so as not to offend Chinese visitors who consider the number unlucky.

New York State received 9.8 million visitations in 2013, 5% more than the prior year thanks to increased travel from different parts of the world: Europe (up 4%), Asia (12%), South America (5%), the Caribbean (8%) and the Middle East (3%). New York City, not surprisingly, received the bulk of the visits, the report says.

The data contained in the just-released, 2013 Survey of International Air Travelers is based on a compilation of I-94 data collected from passengers on flights departing the country.

Other interesting nuggets in the report:

  • Leisure travel, representing the biggest share of international visits with 21.4 million travelers jumped 7% in 2013 over the prior year
  • Business travel, representing 4.9 million travelers, jumped 6% year over year.
  • People who visited friends and relatives, estimated at 9.2 million travelers, jumped 7%.
  • Convention travel, estimated at 3 million travelers, increased by 3%.
  • Visitation to Florida, the USA’s No. 2 most-visited state jumped 10% thanks to an 18% spike in visitation from its biggest source region, South America. Travel from Europe, however, fell 2%.
  • Visitation to California, the third-most visited state by international visitors, jumped 8% thanks largely to a 10% jump in travel from Asia.
  • Last year, both Florida and California set records for welcoming the most travelers for a vacation.
  • The cities most visited by overseas travelers in 2013 were New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston.
  • Business travel, estimated at 4.9 million visits, grew by 6% last year vs. 2012 with large gains from Japan (23%) and India (28%).

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Photos taken by Barb DeLollis show (top to bottom) Times Square; a menu and egg salad sandwich at Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square; a hotel sign as seen from my room at the InterContinental Times Square hotel, and the exterior of the iconic Plaza Hotel.

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