Coney Island’s amusement park has been a famous tourist attraction for more than 120 years. Here, two visitors enjoy themselves, with the Ferris wheel in the background. AP Photo/John Minchillo
Brooklyn’s population has not reached pre-Covid levels as quickly as Manhattan’s, but in terms of the number of visits by American tourists, Brooklyn is leaving Manhattan far behind.
At least, that’s the word from Place.ai (Placer Lab), a California-based analytics firm that describes itself as “providing location analytics and performance data for businesses in commercial real estate, retail, hospitality and community”.
Placer, analyzing the change in retail traffic and domestic foot traffic in the two boroughs, found that “while Manhattan is struggling to maintain its pre-pandemic levels of domestic tourism, Brooklyn has seen domestic tourism increase year-over-year each month this year. “
Domestic or non-foreign travel to Manhattan, according to the online report “Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Pandemic Recovery,” has been up and down in recent months — up in February, down in March, up slightly in April, then down. again in May and June.
Meanwhile, the report states, “inbound tourism in Brooklyn skyrocketed between January 2022 and May 2022, with double-digit increases in foot traffic each month [relative to 2019].” Brooklyn visitation growth slowed in 2022, but was still 5 percent higher than in June 2019.
One of the reasons, one might suspect, is Brooklyn’s affordability. However, the firm says, another factor could be the fact that after the long lull in travel caused by COVID, former residents are returning to visit friends, shop and visit restaurants.
In addition, the number of hotels in the municipality has increased dramatically. In the late 1990s, when the New York Marriott opened on the Brooklyn Bridge, it was heralded as a major event. Now, there are many hotels, in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Sunset Park and elsewhere.
Brooklyn’s retail foot traffic, while it still has a ways to go, has also grown faster than Manhattan’s since the pandemic. In June 2022, for example, retail foot traffic in Brooklyn was 17 percent below June 2019, while in Manhattan it was a full 27 percent below 2019.
In terms of population growth, Manhattan is leading the way — “While Manhattan’s population has essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels, Brooklyn still has fewer residents than in 2019,” the report said. “Many of those who left the municipality during the first two years of COVID have not yet returned.”
The firm doesn’t have a clear answer as to why that is, but it did provide the interesting fact that most people who left Brooklyn moved nearby — Queens was the most common destination, with Manhattan a close second.
This refutes the idea, often discussed early in the COVID pandemic, that Brooklynites who had the means to do so were leaving en masse for the open spaces of Upstate New York, the Hamptons, Pennsylvania and beyond.